In 1937 London, struggling vaudeville actress Molly Barry (Gracie Fields) grows tired of searching for roles and applies for a job as housekeeper for upper class gentleman John Graham (Monty Woolley). She informs her friends and fellow actors, Lily (Queenie Leonard) and Julia (Edith Barrett), about her plans, but since she does not have any housekeeping references, she convinces former exotic dancer Kitty Goode (Natalie Schafer), who has married into the peerage, to act as a fake reference.
Graham's butler, Peabody (Reginald Gardiner), interview Molly, but when Kitty shows up, he recognizes her because he himself is former actor Harry Phillips, who left the profession because of a drinking problem he has since conquered. He then remembers Molly from her theatre work. Peabody does not want another former actor in the household.
Desperate, Molly persuades Peabody to join a party at a pub, where he falls off the wagon. She brings the half-unconscious man back to the Graham house, occupies the housekeeper's room, and in the morning informs Mr. Graham that Peabody has hired her. Peabody has no other alternative but to go along.
Graham's old friend, Jamie McDougall (Gordon Richards), asks him to stand again for Parliament. Graham is reluctant to do so and shows an old newspaper clipping to McDougall, reminding him that Graham ended his political career to avoid public disgrace after his wife ran off with a "sportsman." McDougall burns the clipping in the fireplace and tells Graham it all happened 15 years ago and will not be remembered.
Graham is convinced to travel to Suffolk to meet a man who could be of great help in his election bid, with Peabody acting as his chauffeur. While they are gone, Molly discovers that the domestic staff all steal from the household. When she confronts them, they threaten to quit en masse, but she sacks them instead. Molly puts the house in order by herself. From a fragment of the clipping she finds in the fireplace, Molly learns the truth about Graham's ex-wife, who went abroad because of the scandal.
That night, Graham's teenage son Jimmy (Roddy McDowall) unexpectedly returns home from prep school. Jimmy suffers from a fever and Molly takes care of him. Jimmy confides in Molly his difficulties with his father. While he was young, Jimmy was told that his mother died and is convinced that Graham does not like him because he is a constant reminder of it.
The next day, Peabody sends Molly a telegram telling her to prepare a formal dinner to which influential Sir Arthur Burroughs (Lewis L. Russell), publisher of a big London newspaper, will be a guest. Unable to find professional help on short notice, Molly hires her theatre friends.
Peabody recognizes them, but has to accept their services. Despite their numerous mistakes, the dinner is a success. The new staff celebrates in the kitchen, particularly pleased that the common English fare Molly improvised for dinner instead of food "of subtlety and distinction" impressed Sir Arthur much more. Jimmy joins their celebration. Graham comes down to the kitchen to congratulate them, but overhears Jimmy imitating his gruff pomposity and sour outlook. He sends Jimmy to bed and sacks the staff, including Peabody, when he learns from Molly that they are former entertainers. Molly uses the opportunity to scold Graham for being a poor father to his teenage son. By the next morning, Graham has thought over matters and gives his delighted son permission to re-hire the staff.
The former Mrs. Graham makes an unexpected appearance to extort £1000 from her former husband. Molly tells her he is asleep, but promises to inform him of the sum she wants. Molly tells Graham that "something has happened," but before she can go into detail, he assures her that he has full confidence in her ability to fix any problem. To keep Graham from ever learning of the extortion attempt and Jimmy from discovering the truth about his mother, Molly uses her friends to fool Mrs. Graham into thinking that she has been a participant in a shooting death. Mrs. Graham flees the country.Monty Woolley as John Graham
Gracie Fields as Molly Barry
Reginald Gardiner as Harry Phillips/Peabody
Roddy McDowall as Jimmy Graham
Natalie Schafer as Kitty Goode-Burroughs
Edith Barrett as Julia
Clifford Brooke as Pops
Aminta Dyne as Musette
Queenie Leonard as Lily
Doris Lloyd as Mrs Graham
Patrick O'Moore as Ronnie
Lewis L. Russell as Sir Arthur Burroughs
David Clyde as Angus, the Gardener
Matthew Boulton as Sergeant