“All The Fine Young Cannibals” is the story of Sarah Davis and Chad Bixby, two young people from a small town who are brought together and then torn apart by their own restlessness. Chad plays the trumpet and likes nightclub music, only he's a minister's son. Sarah desperately longs to be someone wealthy and glamorous. Having been intimate with Chad, Sarah gets pregnant, but then Chad's father dies and Chad wants to beat it for the big city. Sarah lets him go without telling him about the child. She makes her own break by running off and changing her name to “Salome.”
On the train she's traveling on, “Salome” meets Tony, a rich young man attending Yale. Playing at being mysterious and exotic, Sarah/Salome winds Tony around her finger; he's never known anyone like her and they soon marry. After the baby is born, “Salome” is as restless as ever, even more so as Tony's bored, spoiled sister Catherine has come to live with them.
Meanwhile, Chad has met a kind black singer named Ruby who gets him into nightclubs in New York. She's like a surrogate mother to him until she dies. By then, Chad has become a kind of star attraction, and one evening, Tony, “Salome” and Catherine go to the club he's playing at. Seeing Sarah/Salome again, Chad plays a hot solo and it is Catherine who develops a longing for him. She begins hanging around him and Chad, seeing a chance to be close to Sarah/Salome, agrees to marry Catherine. Catherine, growing aware of Chad's past with “Salome,” tries first to spoil Chad, then hurt “Salome” with what she's guessed about the baby, and finally attempts suicide. “Salome,” having the doting Tony and Chad competing for her, finds herself increasingly miserable; she has both betrayed and caused betrayal and her life is a sham instead of the dream she thought it would be. It is only when the truth about the baby comes out and true love is shown that “Salome” and Chad finally grow up and take responsibility.