Emily Blair (Loretta Young), who stems from a very wealthy family, is deaf ever since she had meningitis several years ago. She has been away trying in vain to find a cure for her deafness, but is now returning to the town where she was born and raised, Blairtown. Before she went she was engaged to a man named Jeff Stoddard (Barry Sullivan), but put the wedding on hold because of her illness and the following hearing disability.
Upon her return to the hometown she shares a taxi with Dr. Merek Vance (Alan Ladd), who also grew up in Blairtown, but under less fortunate circumstances. He works as a physician in Pittsburgh. Merek's first impression of Emily is that she is a terrible snob, and he is surprised to learn that she can read lips.
Emily is unaware that her former fiancé Jeff and her younger sister Janice (Susan Hayward) have fallen in love with each other. Jeff is reluctant to tell Emily about his new relationship, feeling sorry for her.
Merek is unaware that he is summoned back to his hometown to aid Dr. Weeks (Cecil Kellaway), Blairtowns only physician, in trying to cure Emily's deafness. Merek has a record of curing deaf patients in the past. When Merek hears about the reason for him being there he is disappointed but agrees to help as a favor to Dr. Weeks.
At a dinner at the Blair residence that evening, Merek tells Emily what he really thinks of her, and it turns out his father used to work in one of the Blair factories but was fired right before Christmas one year. Merek still remembers how Emily stared at him at the company's Christmas gathering.
Emily is not keen on the idea of letting Merek use her as a "guinea pig", but since she has emptied out all her other alternatives she eventually agrees to let him try to cure her.
The treatment begins and Merek tries to cure Emily not only of her deafness but also of her snobbery. She gains the respect of some of the factory workers, the Gallos, when she helps the doctor treat their child, Tommy. Merek starts to change his view on Emily and tells her not to marry Jeff as she has planned.
Upon their return to the Blair residence, Merek accidentally sees Jeff and Janice together and understands that they are an item. He keeps the discovery to himself and doesn't reveal anything to Emily.
Some time later, Merek concludes that his treatment is not working, but he tells her that he has fallen in love with her, despite her snobbish manners. Emily doesn't believe he is sincere, and they stop the treatment all together and Merek goes back to Pittsburgh.
Since Jeff still hasn't told Emily about him and Janice, Emily starts planning for their wedding again. She hears of a new treatment that Merek has successfully tested on rabbits, and asks him to return and try if it works on her too. Reluctantly Merek agrees, but when Emily is given the serum she falls into a coma.
Devastated Merek goes back to Pittsburgh. When Emily eventually wakes up from her coma and discovers that she has gotten her hearing back. She overhears Jeff telling Janice that he loves her and understands that she herself is in love with Merek. Emily then goes to Pittsburgh to confess her love for Merek and they reconcile.Alan Ladd as Dr. Merek Vance
Loretta Young as Emily Blair
Susan Hayward as Janice Blair
Barry Sullivan as Jeff Stoddard
Beulah Bondi as Aunt Em
Cecil Kellaway as Dr. Weeks
Grant Mitchell as Uncle Wallace
Helen Mack as Angeletta Gallo
Darryl Hickman as Joe
Anthony Caruso as Peter Gallo
Jonathan Hale as Dr. Sloane
Conrad Binyon as Bobby
Connie Leon as Hester (uncredited)
The film was based on the last novel of Rachel Field. Field died on 15 March 1942, when the story was being serialised in a magazine; it was published in May. The book became a best seller.
Paramount bought the film rights for $75,000, outbidding Warner Bros and David O. Selznick. They originally announced George Stevens would direct. Susan Hayward was announced early on to play one of the two sisters. Loretta Young and Joel McCrea were then named to play the other leads. Talbot Jennings was reported as working on the script. Irving Pichel was assigned to direct. For a time Veronica Lake was mentioned as Young's co-star but Hayward ended up playing the role.
In September McCrea dropped out to do war work and was replaced by Franchot Tone. Jane Murfin was then working on the script.
The film was meant to start production in November. Then Alan Ladd was invalided out of the army and became available for the role; Tone was dropped and replaced by Ladd. Hedda Hopper reported in her regular column around this time that "when Loretta Young and Alan Ladd played in China together, he swore he'd never make another picture with her. That's all forgotten now."
Raymond Chandler signed a long term contract with Paramount in late 1943 and he was put to work on the script.
Filming took place in December 1943 through to January 1944.
Loretta Young later said she "never made any contact" with Ladd as an actor:
He wouldn't look at me. He'd say, "I love you..." he'd be looking out there some place. Finally, I said,"Alan, I'm he-ere!!"... I think he was very conscious of his looks. Alan would not look beyond a certain point in the camera because he didn't think he looked good... Jimmy Cagney was not tall but somehow Jimmy was at terms with himself, always. I don't think Alan Ladd ever came to terms with himself.
The Los Angeles Times said the film had "taken a provocative idea and treated it conventionally."
The film was a hit at the box office.
Ladd and Young reprised their roles in an adaptation of the film for Lux Radio Theatre in 1945. It was introduced by Preston Sturges.