Adapted from Eric Hatch's novel, an eccentric rich family hires a homeless man as a butler, who brings intelligence to their shallow lives.
At a city dump Cornelia Bullock (Gail Patrick) offers homeless Godfrey (William Powell) $5 to go to the Ritz to win a scavenger hunt; but he pushes her off. Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) laughs and gets him to go with her to the mayhem at the Ritz, where he qualifies as a "forgotten man." Godfrey calls them empty-headed and asks Irene for a job. She hires him as butler and gives him money for clothes. The maid Molly (Jean Dixon) welcomes him to the crazy household; Irene makes him her protégé and tells Cornelia to leave him alone. Cornelia complains that Irene picked up a stray, and Carlo (Mischa Auer) acts like a gorilla. Mr. Alexander Bullock (Eugene Pallette) takes the drinks into his room, and Mrs. Angelica Bullock (Alice Brady) keeps Godfrey on. Irene kisses Godfrey and follows him to his room, where he explains propriety and tells her not to come there.
At a party Godfrey serves, and Tommy Gray (Alan Mowbray) says he knew Godfrey at Harvard, saying Godfrey has five children and causing Irene to announce her engagement to a fool. Godfrey congratulates her, and she runs out. Godfrey meets Tommy and says he gave all he had to a woman but was saved by the men at the river. Cornelia asks about his name Park and wants to be a friend; but Godfrey says she is a brat. Irene and Molly cry over the absent Godfrey, who comes in drunk. Cornelia hides her pearl necklace under Godfrey's mattress, summons the police, and is surprised when they don't find it there.
Godfrey takes Tommy to the dump to meet several men who need jobs. Irene broke her engagement and flirts with Godfrey while he washes dishes; but he says he had a bitter experience and is moving on. Irene cries but is happy to learn he does not have children. Cornelia wants to talk with Godfrey; so Irene faints, but he puts her in the shower. Irene repeats, "Godfrey loves me." Alexander throws Carlo out and tells Angelica, Cornelia, and Godfrey that they are broke. Godfrey says he invested money in stock to help them, using the pearls, which he returns. Godfrey says he learned from Alexander's patience, Angelica's amusements, and Cornelia's false pride. Then he leaves and goes to The Dump restaurant complex and plans more apartments. Irene finds his office and brings in wood and food to take care of him. Then she arranges their wedding right there.
This Depression comedy contrasts the foolish rich with the plight of the jobless, though the homeless man who saves both groups has a Harvard education and the intelligence to solve problems. No wonder Irene is madly in love.