Director Bernie Dodd wants Frank Elgin to play the lead in his new musical, "The Land Around Us." Only trouble is, Elgin, a former star, started drinking years ago and is now considered totally washed up by everybody else (particularly Dodd's financial backer, Philip Cook). Dodd, who remembers how good Frank used to be, believes in him, gets him to audition and convinces Cook to sign him on for 2 week contracts. Dodd goes to Frank's apartment to tell him the good news and meets Georgie, Frank's long-suffering wife. Knowing how Frank is, Georgie is wary of Dodd's confidence and they get off on the wrong foot with each other. When Frank arrives, he is shaken to learn the role he's been given is the lead, but agrees to do it because he and Georgie know that it may be his only chance at a comeback.
As rehearsals get underway, Frank masks his fears and insecurities by pretending everything's fine, but he gets Georgie to tell Dodd his complaints. Having ended a marriage that's left him sour about women, Dodd suspects Georgie is behind Frank's problems and when Frank tells lies about Georgie being the needy one in order to divert responsibility from himself, Dodd is certain that he must get Georgie out of the picture in order to free Frank's artistry. It turns out Frank is haunted by the death of his young son, who was hit by a car when Frank was supposed to be watching him. Frank knows he's always been afraid inside about not being good enough, and secretly he also knows that he's been using his son's death as an excuse for every personal failure ever since.
When his performances continue to go badly, Frank begins drinking again, but hides it from Dodd, who blames Georgie. Dodd finally demands that Georgie leave. Fed up with Dodd's blindness to the actual situation, Georgie agrees and Frank
goes on a bender, ending up in the drunk tank. Dodd and Georgie bail him out and when they confront him, the truth about Georgie comes out and Dodd apologizes. Seeing her in a new light, "loyal, steadfast and devoted," Dodd realizes she is the kind of woman he'd always hoped for. He kisses her and she responds. Yet they both put aside their new feelings in order to pull Frank together in time for the play's big run in New York. Frank also experiences a breakthrough when he sees how committed Dodd is to him. The New York run is a confirmed success. Frank sees Dodd and Georgie together, understands their feelings and leaves it up to Georgie to decide whether she'll stay with him or go with Dodd.