In 1911, minor stage comic, Vernon Castle meets the stage-struck Irene Foote. A few misadventures later, they marry and then abandon comedy to attempt a dancing career together. While they’re performing in Paris, an agent sees them rehearse and starts them on their brilliant career as the world’s foremost ballroom dancers. However, at the height of their fame, World War I begins.
Lucky is tricked into missing his wedding to Margaret by the other members of Pop’s magic and dance act, and has to make $25,000 to be allowed to marry her. He and Pop go to New York where they run into Penny, a dancing instructor. She and Lucky form a successful dance partnership, but romance is blighted by his old attachment to Margaret and hers for Ricardo—the band leader who won’t play for them to dance together.
When the fleet puts in at San Francisco, sailor Bake Baker tries to rekindle the flame with his old dancing partner, Sherry Martin, while Bake’s buddy Bilge Smith romances Sherry’s sister, Connie. But it’s not all smooth sailing—Bake has a habit of losing Sherry’s jobs for her and, despite Connie’s dreams, Bilge is not ready to settle down.
Showman Jerry Travers is working for producer Horace Hardwick in London. Jerry demonstrates his new dance steps late one night in Horace’s hotel, much to the annoyance of sleeping Dale Tremont below. She goes upstairs to complain and the two are immediately attracted to each other. Complications arise when Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace.
Ballet star Pete “Petrov” Peters arranges to cross the Atlantic aboard the same ship as the dancer he’s fallen for but barely knows, musical star Linda Keene. By the time the ocean liner reaches New York, a little white lie has churned through the rumor mill and turned into a hot gossip item: that the two celebrities are secretly married.
The ups and downs in the lives and careers of a group of ambitious young actresses and show girls from disparate backgrounds brought together in a theatrical hostel. Centres particularly on the conflict and growing friendship between Terry Randall, a rich girl confident in her talent and ability to make it to the top on the stage, and Jean Maitland, a world weary and cynical trouper who has taken the hard knocks of the ruthless and over-populated world of the Broadway apprentice.
Barnaby Fulton is a research chemist working on a fountain of youth pill for a chemical company. One of the labs chimps, Esther, gets loose in the laboratory and, having watched Dr Fulton do something similar, mixes a beaker of chemicals, but then pours the mix into the water cooler. Later, when trying one of his own samples sample, washed down with water from the cooler, Fulton begins to act just like a 20-year-old and believes his potion is working. Soon his wife and boss are also behaving like children.
Four aspiring musical actresses – Carol, Trixie, Polly and Fay – are struggling to make a living on Broadway in the midst of the Great Depression. When producer Barney Hopkins has the idea of creating a show about the Depression, the girls team up with newly-discovered songwriter Brad Roberts to make it happen. But Brad is not who he seems.
Mary Marshall, serving a six year term for accidental manslaughter, is given a Christmas furlough from prison to visit her closest relatives, her uncle and his family in a small Midwestern town. On the train she meets Zach Morgan, a troubled army sergeant on leave for the holidays from a military hospital. Although his physical wounds have healed, he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and is subject to panic attacks. The pair are attracted to one another and in the warm atmosphere of the Christmas season friendship blossoms into romance, but Mary is reluctant to tell him of her past and that she must shortly return to prison to serve the remainder of her sentence.