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In its simplest form, the plot involves two mismatched couples finding their correct pairings by the hero having to resort to disguises to get his girl, and his girl being (nearly) unimpeachable. For more detail read on ……
Shortly before he is about to set sail on the SS American tycoon Whitney tells his assistant Billy to sell some shares. Billy is more interested in his new love, Hope, than in doing his job. However, Hope is to be married to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
Also on board ship are: Hope and her mother Evangeline Harcourt; Reno, a former evangelist but now a nightclub singer who would like to be Billy’s girlfriend, and her dancers; Moonface Martin, a gangster on the run who is disguised as a priest; and Erma, a gangster’s moll. Erma’s man has not turned up and Billy spots an opportunity to travel on the ship disguised as Erma’s man Snake Eyes Johnson.
Billy should not be sailing and needs to hide from Whitney. He disguises himself in a sailor suit and is thus able to get close to Hope. Evelyn is delighted to meet the fabulous singer Reno on board. Reno recognises Billy and Moon in their disguises and reconciles herself to losing Billy. In fact, she decides to help him woo Hope, and arranges to be caught in a compromising situation in Evelyn’s cabin to try and break up Hope and Evelyn’s engagement.
The Captain tells the sailors to keep a look out for criminals who might be on board. Billy and Moon change their disguises and convince Mrs Harcourt that Billy is the real Evelyn. Hope is angry with Billy for playing such a trick and pulls off his fake beard. The Captain then sees Billy and thinks he is the gangster Snake Eyes. In fact, the Captain is delighted to have a ‘celebrity’ on board and Billy becomes the centre of attention. Moon tries to get in on the act by admitting that he really is a gangster. Once the attention has died down Billy and Hope spend time together and Billy tries to persuade Hope to marry him.
The passengers enter for an evening of entertainment by Reno and her Angels. But Reno turns to evangelising and encourages the passengers to confess their sins. Evelyn confesses to having had a dalliance with a Chinese girl and Mrs Harcourt and Hope are horrified.
Billy confesses that he is not Snake Eyes, but just a miserable share-broker. The captain has Billy and Moon arrested.
Evelyn and Reno meet on deck and Evelyn explains he’s not really in love with Hope. Reno finds herself unexpectedly attracted to Evelyn. This is good news for Billy, as long as he can get out of jail. He and Moon get out of jail by playing strip poker with two Chinese and disguising themselves yet again in their clothes.
Hope and Evelyn are due to get married on board – until Billy and Moon, still disguised as Chinese, appear. Reno is also dressed up as the Chinese girl with whom Evelyn had a fling. Evelyn is ‘persuaded’ to do the honourable thing and offer marriage to the disguised Reno. That leaves Billy free to propose to Hope.
Mrs Harcourt is horrified: without her daughter marrying into money they will be poor. Whitney is delighted to step into the breach and offer marriage to Mrs Harcourt. There is a last minute hitch as Billy explains he never sold the shares he was told to sell at the very beginning of the story. Whitney thinks he is ruined and it seems that Mrs Harcourt’s affections might not be strong after all.
Then all is made right as it is discovered that the shares have rocketed and Whitney is very wealthy indeed. Mrs Harcourt discovers that her affections are quite what they should be.
With everyone being themselves and in the correct pairings the show comes to an end.