Miss Victoria Woodworth (Edith Evans) is an elderly New York heiress, living a peaceful life with a large household staff and frequently engaging in philanthropy. There is, however, one rather large problem with her lifestyle: She doesn't actually have any money. Her wealthy father left her a mere $200, and her loyal servants, led by Fitzwilly, have been engaging in elaborate schemes and scams in order to facilitate her lifestyle.
All of this threatens to unravel, however, when Miss Woodworth brings in Juliet Nowell (Barbara Feldon), an outsider to their servant network, to help compile a dictionary with all possible phonetic misspellings. Trying to prevent Juliet from discovering their crimes, Fitzwilly courts her in order to persuade her to leave. However, things become even more complicated when he begins to fall for her for real...
This film contains examples of:
- The Atoner: Former priest servant Albert, who, consumed with guilt over his crimes, turns himself in after the Christmas job.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Fitzwilly and Juliet, initially.
- The Caper: The film climaxes with an audacious plan to rob Gimbels department store on Christmas Eve.
- The Con: The specialty of the servants.
- The Film of the Book: Adapted from a novel called A Garden of Cucumbers.note
- John Williams: Composed the film's score, under the name "Johnny" Williams.
- Meganekko: Juliet, although she only wears glasses part of the time.
- Mock Millionaire: Miss Woodworth, not that she's aware of it.
- One Last Job: The Gimbels Christmas Eve heist.
- Scout-Out: The "Platypi" troop.
- Uncle Pennybags: Miss Woodworth, who is very generous with her philanthropy. Very generous. She's also not afraid to lightly blackmail the district attorney to go soft on her servant.
- Wealthy Ever After: In the end, the dictionary is turned into a screenplay and is sold to Hollywood, solving the household's financial problems.