Before this show starts our hero and
heroine, Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt, meet at a party one hot summer
night in the early 1930's. Hope is a pretty girl, with an overbearing
mother who wants her daughter to marry an English Lord. Billy is a young
man just beginning his career on Wall Street. A leisurely drive through
Central Park and a chaste kiss put the finishing touches on an evening
that speaks of promise. Somehow, Hope slips away without giving her name
and address to Billy.
The story begins at the New York sailing of
the Ocean Greyhound AMERICA bound for England. Everything takes place
aboard the ship. It is customary for members of the press to take
photographs of the passengers for the 'Society' sections of newspapers
before a ship sets sail. Of particular interest to the ship's reporters
is Reno Sweeney, famed Evangelist-turned-Nightclub singer, with her four
beautiful Angels - backup singers. Unfortunately she appears to be the
only celebrity on board. Other passengers photographed include Elisha
Whitney (Wall Street executive and Billy Crocker's boss), Sir Evelyn
Oakleigh (a rich English Gentleman), Miss Hope Harcourt (American
debutante and Evelyn's fiancée), Mrs. Wadsworth Harcourt (Hope's
mother), Bishop Henry Dobson (a minister), and Ching and Ling (two of
Bishop Dobson's Chinese converts).
Billy Crocker comes aboard to drop off his
boss' passport. On board he runs into Reno, who is an old friend. Billy,
as it turns out, is the same young man who drove around Central Park
with Hope Harcourt, and who has been searching for her unsuccessfully
ever since. Reno greets Billy warmly, and she tells him how she gets a
"kick" whenever they meet. Then the deck stewards begin to call,
"All ashore that's going ashore," and Billy starts for the gangplank. He
is just stepping on it when a girl appears: the splendid girl with whom
he rode around Central Park. "Are you sailing?" she asks. "You bet I'm
sailing" is his reply. And the ship sets sail.
There is another celebrity sailing, but he
is very much under wraps. "Moonface Martin," a onetime ship's gambler
and "Public Enemy 13," is hiding out on board disguised as a Minister.
This "thirteen" has brought him a succession of bad luck, and he is
determined to move up to the 11 or 12 spot. Billy wins Moonface's
friendship by inadvertently identifying Bishop Henry Dobson as Moonface
to the FBI. The innocent Bishop ends up in the ship's brig. Moonface
shows his gratitude by giving Billy a ticket and passport, intended for
his friend Snake Eyes, for the trip. Snake Eyes, number "one" on the
"wanted" list, had been warned against sailing. His companion, Bonnie,
does set sail and spends time with Moonface.
The first evening Billy finds out that Hope
is engaged to Sir Evelyn. The British gentleman's lack of romance and
upset stomach give Billy an opportunity to be alone with Hope all
night.. When he gets back to the room he and Moon are sharing the next
morning, Billy realizes that his boss, Whitney, is their neighbor. Moon
steals Whitney's glasses, so Whitney will not recognize Billy on board.
Moon finds out that the authorities are searching the ship for Billy,
who they think is the real Snake Eyes. In order to warn his new friend
that he is in danger, Moonface admits to Billy that he is not a real
clergyman and reveals his true identity. When Billy responds to Moon
that he will not turn him in, Moon tells Billy that the ship's crew
thinks Billy is actually Snake Eyes. Billy refuses to hide for the rest
of the trip because he wants to see Hope. Bonnie disguises Billy in a
sailor's uniform. Moon, Reno and her Angels recognize Billy as a
sailor. He explains his predicament to Reno, and she is willing to
distract Sir Evelyn; she thinks he is attractive. Moonface also
joins in Reno's efforts to help Billy win Hope away from the pleasant
but lame-brained English Baronet to whom she is engaged. Billy has
just a few days to win Hope (whose mother is all for Sir Evelyn), the
ship's officers are searching the ship for a man who is the occupant of
the "number one" gangster's cabin, and Billy has to resort to varied
disguises that include dressing as a woman, a chef and a man with a
beard. The ship's Purser finally catches up with Snake Eyes and Moonface,
but Billy is spared from going to the ship's jail. All of the passengers
except Hope consider Billy posing as Snake Eyes a celebrity, and want
him to mingle among them freely..
The passengers on board celebrate the new
celebrity they discovered in Public Enemy No. One, and Bonnie encourages
the imposter's acceptance. Sir Evelyn begins to fall in love with Reno.
Hope gets progressively more disgusted with Billy's lie. The Captain
instructs Moonface, still undercover as a minister, to perform a service
to reform Snake Eyes. Under Hope's pressure Billy finally confesses he
is an imposter, Moonface admits who he really is, and the two end up in
the ship's brig.
Billy is obsessed with Hope while in jail.
Moonface tries to calm him down. The two Chinese converts traveling with
the real Bishop Dobson are also thrown into the brig, for gambling. When
Hope finally visits Billy there, she tells him of her mother's plans to
have the Captain marry her and Sir Evelyn within hours. The young couple
love each other.. Billy must prevent this wedding from happening. He and
Moonface trick the converts to exchange clothes with them, and are
released from jail in the converts' places. Billy arrives on deck in
time to prevent the marriage ceremony, by embarrassing Sir Evelyn, with
Reno's help. Hope and Billy end up together, as do Reno and Sir
Evelyn, Bonnie and Moonface, and Mrs. Harcourt and Mr. Whitney. The only
one who is the least bit disappointed is Moonface, who is no longer
wanted by the F.B.I.