Synopsis by Bruce Eder
Eight year old Paddy O'Day (Jane Withers) arrives at Ellis Island after a long sea voyage from Ireland, to be with her mother. But her mother is nowhere to be found when the ship docks, and the authorities are notified that Mrs. O'Day has died, only a few days ago -- the little girl will have to be sent back. Paddy has only been told that her mother is ill, and manages to sneak out off the island. After encountering a group of street urchins who try to make trouble for her -- and proving that she's got what it takes to take care of herself -- she makes her way to the large mansion on Long Island where her mother works, and learns the truth. The home is owned by Roy Ford (Pinky Tomlin), a studious upper-class bird fancier who has been browbeaten into life as an eccentric collector of stuffed birds by his two overbearing aunts (Vera Lewis, Louise Carter) -- their intention is to notify the authorities if Paddy shows up. But the servants, led by kindly maid Jane Darwell and initially unwilling butler Russell Simpson, decide to hide the child in the house while the aunts are away. Paddy chances to meet Roy, who takes a liking to her and decides to try and help her as well -- and when Paddy's very pretty shipboard friend Tamara Petrovich (Rita Cansino) shows up, along with her restauranteur cousin Mischa (George Givot), he starts to really come out of his shell. Mischa and Tamara will hide the little girl, and Mischa -- with help from a beverage new to Roy, called vodka -- convinces the young millionaire that there is a future in investing in his establishment. Roy likes the loosening up effect that vodka has on him, and also likes even more being around Tamara, and he soon becomes a new man -- not only a partner in the business, but a performer in the stage show that Mischa works up for his now-expanded restaurant/night club, which includes Paddy along with Tamara. But Roy's aunts have returned home, and are as appalled by their nephew's new, joyful approach to life as they are by his apparent infatuation with an immigrant girl and her family. They hire an investigator (Clarence H. Wilson) to try to prove that Roy is mentally incompetent, and he soon discovers that the little Irish waif working in the act is in the United States illegally, a fact that, once reported to the authorities, will get not only get Paddy deported by Tamara as well.
family, survivor, adoption, aunt, boarding-house, custody, custody-battle, dance [art], escape, immigrant, marriage, mother, orphan, spinster