Johnny Jones (Lamarr) is a refugee from "what was once Austria". Unfortunately she has overstayed her visa and is facing imminent deportation. Even more unfortunately, her boyfriend, wealthy publisher Barton Kendrick (Ian Hunter) is married.
Enter Bill Smith (Stewart), a would-be author who is apparently on the ragged edge of starvation. He is literally down to his last dime—and he then loses the dime. After a Meet Cute, Johnny makes a proposition: Bill can marry her. She'll pay Bill's living expenses until he gets a book contract, and she'll get to stay in America.
Shockingly, romantic sparks fly.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Bill and Johnny are kissing as the movie is ending. They both turn and look at the camera before they hold up a sign saying "All's Well That Ends Well," and the movie ends.
- Citizenship Marriage: Johnny resorts to one to stave off deportation. Things get complicated when Barton, who does not know how she avoided deportation, says he's going to get a Reno divorce to marry her.
- Diagonal Billing: Lamarr wasn't a star for as long as Stewart was, but in 1941, she was a pretty big star.
- Divorce in Reno: Johnny is startled when Barton tells her he's going to Reno to cut his wife loose.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Where to go out? "I don't care, just so that there are people and music and we can be gay."
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Barton the publisher receives Bill and is pretty startled to find out that Bill's novel is all about Barton's girlfriend. Barton especially doesn't like the notion that the older man character will lose out. He stammers "After all, there's nothing to keep him from getting the girl except—" and he's interrupted by the intercom buzzing with the secretary saying "Mrs. Kendrick."
- Let Off by the Detective: The immigration detective who tracks down Johnny is so moved by her plight that he offers to refrain from hauling her in a week, and suggests that she find a man to marry.
- Literary Allusion Title: It's from "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe.
- Love Triangle: Johnny, Bill, and Johnny's married lover Barton.
- Marriage Before Romance: It's a simple proposition.
- Meet Cute: Johnny steps on Bill's foot when he's reaching to pick up a cigarette in the park. Then they wind up both taking shelter from the rain in the same diner.
- Rage Against the Reflection: Bill, who by now is in love with Johnny and angry about the deal, catches his face in a mirror. He says "Hiya, sucker," and breaks the mirror.
- Starving Artist: Bill has a host of rejection letters and is flat broke.
- Write Who You Know: In-Universe. Bill finally comes up with the novel that will make his career—it's called "Without Love", and it's the story of his Marriage Before Romance with Johnny.