In Oklahoma in the 1920s, Rubin Flood (Robert Preston) loses his job as a travelling salesman when the company goes bankrupt. This adds to his worries at home. His wife Cora (Dorothy McGuire) is frigid because of trying to make ends meet. His teenage daughter Reenie (Shirley Knight) is afraid of going out on dates, but eventually makes friends with a troubled Jewish boy Sammy Golden (Lee Kinsolving), and his son is a mama's boy. He finally storms out of the house when Cora falsely accuses him of having an affair with Mavis Pruitt (Dame Angela Lansbury).