Jimmy Stewart opens as the owner of a struggling music store who ends up having to give away one-thousand dollars of his wealthy uncle’s money every week on a nationwide radio show.
To proffer a sense of the film’s inanity, allow me to summarize the plot. As mentioned, Stewart opens owning a struggling music shop. When the shop folds, he takes up his wealthy uncle C.J.’s offer to join his health food business. The film proffers scenes of kids playing awful music in Stewart’s shop, and C.J.’s inability to work his office intercom as comedy.
After a musical number that sees passers-by singing as Stewart walks to C.J.’s factory headquarters, he meets Molly, played by Paulette Goddard. Molly’s mother, Mom McCorkle, owns the boardinghouse across the alley from C.J.’s factory.
Stewart takes an interest in Molly because the script requires it, with Molly unaware Stewart is C.J.’s nephew. This proves crucial as C.J. hates music and Mom McCorkle’s also houses Horace Height and his band, whose rooftop rehearsals drive C.J. crazy.
C.J. calls the police to shut down the music, leading to a standoff. Stewart chucks a tomato meant for one of C.J.’s bullying lackeys but hits C.J. instead. This gets Stewart a free room from Mom McCorkle. He meets Horace and the band and joins an impromptu jam on his harmonica.
But Stewart’s soon arrested for the tomato toss. At his trial, the judge dismisses the case, but Stewart has to sneak out when C.J. bursts in to avoid his uncle seeing him. Stewart sneaks away, right into the paddy wagon, which takes him to jail. He spends his cell-time singing with his cellmates. Yes, Jimmy Stewart sings. Cited for contempt, C.J. joins him in jail and the sing-a-longs.
Horace and the band hock their instruments to post Stewart’s bail, springing him from jail. When C.J. gets out, he’s too hoarse from the jail sing-a-longs to host his nationwide radio program and has Stewart go on in his stead. This leads to Horace discovering Stewart’s relation to C.J., but Stewart squares things by getting the band’s instruments out of hock. Meanwhile, Molly daydreams a medieval fantasy that sees her as a princess throwing flowers from a castle balcony with a dubbed Stewart serenading her.
Stewart and Horace then cook up a plan to gaslight C.J.. It works. Convinced he’s going crazy, C.J. travels to Canada to relax. Stewart gets Horace and the band on the radio show, providing a big break. But Molly—who just now learns Stewart is C.J.’s nephew—storms to the microphone and announces a one-thousand dollar giveaway during every future show.
C.J., listening from Canada, panics and starts the trek home. Meanwhile, Stewart must figure out how to give away the money or suffer legal ramifications. The law forbids lotteries, raffles, and contests. He could sign an affidavit declaring Molly responsible for the idea, but this would lose the McCorkles the boarding house.
Of course, everything works out. C.J. ends up richer than ever, the McCorkles keep their boarding house, and Jimmy and Molly end up engaged.
Whew. I’ll be honest: I needed my notes, plus a refresher synopsis from Wikipedia to pull that together. The inane plotting made more sense once I discovered the film was based on a radio giveaway program also called Pot o’ Gold.
The writers started with the one-thousand dollar giveaway and worked backwards, crafting a fanciful origin story, and padding the runtime with musical numbers.
It needn’t have been so awkward. Stewart and Goddard could have played fans of the show who meet and bond over their mutual interest. They fall in love but face an insurmountable obstacle overcome by the fortuitous advent of one of them winning the thousand dollars. Trite, but more relatable than lecturing the audience on the bureaucracy surrounding radio show giveaways.