Maggie, a headlining comedienne with the Follies, takes a fall off the stage into the orchestra pit and lands on the drum of musician Al Cassidy. One thing leads to another, they fall in love and get married. Al becomes a famous songwriter and Maggie stays home and has children. One day Al is hired to write a big number for Selma Larson, one of the Follies’ most beautiful stars, and falls for her. Complications ensue.
A renowned doctor and his brother live and work together until the brother falls in love with Marie, a singer, and gives up medicine to be with her. After a time however, she misses her old life and goes back on the stage – an act which leads her lover to commit suicide. Later the doctor and Marie also meet, and she becomes his mistress. He finds out about his brother’s suicide and goes through his artifacts looking for a clue as to what might have been the cause. He finds a photograph of Marie and realizes the truth, which decimates their relationship.
Sanger, an eccentric expatriate composer, dies in his house in the Austrian Alps, leaving his daughters penniless. The young composer Lewis Dodd, a longstanding friend of the family, falls in love with their cousin Florence when she comes to take the girls back to England. But little Tessa Sanger is in love with Lewis herself, and when she runs away from school and comes to live with Florence and her husband, their already-shaky marriage is further undermined…
Maldone is a canal worker, happy with his life after running away from his family estate. He falls in love with Zita, a young gypsy girl, during a local fete. However, after his brother dies, Maldone is called back to manage the estate. There, he takes up the life of a landowner and marries a neighbor’s daughter. Years later Maldone is still restless on the estate, and becomes obsessed with Zita, after meeting her by chance one evening.
Mamie, an orphan girl who was abused in the orphanage, is taken in by Mrs. Caldwell, a kindly woman with a young son named Alexander. Mamie hits it off with the lad, and nicknames him “Zander”. When Mrs. Caldwell dies, the authorities decree that the boy must be placed in the same orphanage where Mamie was mistreated. Horrified, Mamie determines to see to it that the boy will be spared the same treatment that she had to suffer.
All of those handsome young men in their flying machines are billeted in a field next to the Widow Berthelot’s farmhouse in France. Her daughter Jeannine is curious about the young men fighting for England in World War I and their airplanes. Then one of the aviators is killed. His replacement is Captain Philip Blythe who can’t help but notice Jeannine. When he lands the first time, she is standing in the middle of his “runway.” She makes a more favorable impression when he sees her later by the lilacs. When all of the young men depart on a mission, Blythe promises to return.
An honest police captain named McQuigg becomes a tough rival to a powerful bootlegger named Scarsi, even though McQuigg’s pinches never stick because Scarsi and his organization control the corrupt politicians and judges. When Scarsi can’t scare McQuigg off, he gets him transferred to a quiet police precinct in the suburbs, but McQuigg continues their war of words via a pair of wisecracking newspaper reporters.