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In 1915, would-be entreprenuer Brad Taylor is intent on making a name for himself in his hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Brad's father Jake runs a boardinghouse that caters to vaudevillians, who usually owe Jake back rent, and Brad's girl friend, Marilyn Whitaker, is an aspiring singer. Marilyn's partner, Carter Graham, is in love with Marilyn, but she has eyes only for Brad, despite his constant preoccupation with his work. With the help of Jake's vaudeville friends, Brad stages a successful show featuring Marilyn and Graham at his small theater. With the profits from the show, Brad renovates Jake's boardinghouse and turns it into a fancy hotel, then casually tells Marilyn to go to New York when she is offered a part in a Broadway show. Crushed that Brad does not care if she stays or goes, Marilyn decides to leave, but is thrilled when Brad asks her to stay and appear in his new show. Unknown to Marilyn, Brad only wants her to fill in for the missing star, and Marilyn is devastated when she learns the truth from Brad's comical helper, The Professor. Brad finally proposes to Marilyn, and the first two years of their marriage pass quickly as Brad builds up his businesses in Atlantic City. Although Brad's ruthless methods increase his real estate holdings, Marilyn and Jake caution him that he must make friends along the way. Marilyn also pays for Brad's business dealings when no one shows up at her housewarming party. Jake warns Brad that he is neglecting his wife, but Brad ignores his father and builds more theaters, including the Apollo, where he stages a successful "Harlem on Parade" show. When the United States enters World War I, Brad enlists, and while he fights overseas, Marilyn throws herself into selling bonds. Marilyn becomes a star on Broadway but happily gives up her career when Brad comes home. Jake tries to make Brad see how much Marilyn has sacrificed for him, but the driven Brad continues to neglect his wife while talking a group of investors into holding a yearly beauty pageant, which will feature a contestant from each state. Soon Brad crowns Miss America of 1921, then resigns from the committee in order to focus his attention on his newest enterprise, a huge entertainment complex on the pier. After Jake sadly advises Marilyn to leave Brad and rebuild her own career, Brad's business luck runs out when the pier is destroyed by a fire. Brad's other businesses are repossessed in order to pay for his losses, and he is left with only the Apollo, which is deeply in debt. Brad appeals to his business associates for help, but, still galled by Brad's meteoric rise, they refuse to lend him any money. A chastened Brad admits to Jake that he and Marilyn were right all along about the need to build true friendships, and Jake determines to help his son. With the aid of The Professor, Marilyn and his old vaudeville buddies, Jake stages an enormously successful show to raise money for Brad's remaining theater. As he watches the show, Brad apologizes to Jake's friends, on whom he had once looked down, and his sincere repentance moves Marilyn. After she performs in the spectacular finale, Marilyn embraces her husband.