Based on Theodore Dreiser's story of how his brother became a popular song writer, Paul Dresser has a love-hate relationship with a singing star.
In Indiana Paul Dresser (Victor Mature) tells his father that he wants to be a musician, not a minister, and leaves. Paul plays banjo and sings as a con man departs with money. Angry people tar and feather Paul. Mae Collins (Carole Landis) helps clean Paul and gives him clothes. They kiss. Paul works for the medicine show of Col. Truckee (Walter Catlett). Fred Haviland (John Sutton) and Sally Elliott (Rita Hayworth) laugh at Paul's new suit, and he plays two pianos. In her show Sally sings "I'm the Toast of the Town" as Paul laughs with Mae. Paul tells Mae he is going to New York without her.
In New York Paul hears Pat Hawley (James Gleason) playing his song that Pat says Sally wrote. Paul signs a contract with Pat. Sally sings "Come Tell Me" and dances with ten men. Paul accuses her of stealing his song, but Fred makes a deal for Pat to publish it. Fred invites Paul, and he brings John L. Sullivan. Paul and Sally sing "Oh! The Pity of It All." Paul asks her out and takes her home. Paul gets the suite across from Sally. After rehearsal she finds Paul writing a song at her piano. He sings "Here You Are" with her and kisses her.
Paul writes hit songs for Sally. When Paul comes late with Countess Rossini (Mona Maris), she leaves. Sally comes to Paul and apologizes as he buys suits. Paul says he is going to Cuba, but Sally intercepts a message from the Countess and cuts up his suits. Paul slashes her dresses until a policeman arrests him. A quartet hired by Paul serenades Sally, who gets a judge and police to make Paul finish his Wabash song so she can sing it. Paul declines an invitation from the Countess and goes out with Sally. They get stuck on a ferris wheel; he gives her a ring, and they agree to marry. After Sally won't let Paul inside her door, he is challenged to a duel by the Count's seconds. Paul goes to use his fists and is welcomed by the Countess. Paul says he is marrying Sally but drinks with the Countess. In the morning Sally sees the Countess bring Paul home and flings away the ring. Fred consoles Sally.
In San Francisco Sally sings "Me and My Fella." Backstage Wiley (Phil Silvers) sings Paul's song "Volunteers" that flopped. Paul shows Pat his new score. Wiley tells Sally about "My Gal Sal" and says it was written in the South. When she performs it, Paul tells her he wrote it. She gets angry, but he wrestles her into happy submission.
This romantic musical entertainment plays upon the sexual
tension and the process of its resolution.