Star struck Grace is trying to fulfill her fantasies of a starlet's life. She starts a business as advertised at the back of Tinsel Times magazine, not so much for the income but because she thought it would bring her one step closer to being like a star. The venture is an utter failure. Just then, Nathan Sparks arrives in town. A director with Associated Screen Productions - a production company that specializes in newsreels - he is only passing through on his way to do a newsreel on the Dionne Quintuplets. Sparks' dream as a filmmaker is to make important feature length movies that have social significance, if only his producer/financier Bert Potter thought the same. Grace thinks Sparks' presence in New Bedford is fate. She convinces him to turn one of his stories into a feature length film to be scripted by Max and filmed in New Bedford with real people as the actors. The filming has its problems, especially in overacting by the non-actors, and Sparks only having a limited amount of film with which to work. But Ollie sees this project as an opportunity to rekindle his relationship with Grace. The entire project is halted when Bert Potter comes to town looking for his employee. Despite this dream not working out, Sparks' visit is ultimately beneficial for both him and Grace in knowing what they need to do in achieving their respective dreams. Grace's self-esteem is heightened with a little help from Fat, who is trying to find his own place in life in New Bedford.
- Grace is rushing across the street headed toward the hotel with two large brown paper wrapped packages under her arms. Ollie intercepts her and asks if she needs a hand and if she would like to grab some coffee. Grace declines stating that the tea room, wheres she headed, is closed for a private function for which shes already late. Arriving at the tea room, an angry Callie is rushing Grace in to start her presentation in the tea room, where there are a roomful of women waiting. Grace is nervous by the large crowd. Callie invited as many women as she could as Grace is giving her a 5% cut on all sales from this venture. In the tea room, Grace sets up the display wrapped in the flat package. As she begins her pitch that the product she is selling in available now through mail order and worn by all the Hollywood stars, Grace reveals a life sized cardboard figure of a woman wearing a girdle. Myrt is flabbergasted that Grace is selling girdles. Grace elaborates that it's not just a girdle, but the Firm Flex Hollywood Special Control Corselet. The girdle is appropriate for wearing under the slinky gowns worn by stars. Grace flips the cardboard display around, the opposite side showing the same woman in a beautiful gown. Each purchase is accompanied by a free gift, a phonograph recording and manual of beauty tips by the glamorous Madame Stella of Hollywood. Grace's presentation goes further down hill when she can't open the package with the sample girdles, when Myrt asks Grace to model one, and when Grace doing her modeling is walked in on by her mother and Reverend McLellan. May and the reverend are at the hotel discussing ways for the New Bedford Booster Society to lift the spirits of townsfolk after the difficult year they've had. As May and the reverend walk in, Grace, embarrassed, rushes behind a partition, whereas the women in the audience are amused by Grace's situation. After the formal presentation, the women exit the tea room, Myrt who expresses her enjoyment at the good laugh. Toppy, however, supports her sister-in-law and buys a girdle, this being Grace's only sale. Callie is furious that Grace made no money and in turn she made no money. And May wants to talk to Grace at home about her behavior. Grace is angry at herself for entering into this venture, the ad at the back of the Tinsel Times magazine making it sound like a fun experience.
Hub and Buck are playing street hockey. Fat yells to them that he wants to play goalie, but Hub won't let him, Hub who really just doesn't want his brother hanging around. Fat laments to Max, who is just passing by, that Hub is treating him like a leper. Max states this behavior is normal for brothers, and that Fat needs to find a pastime of his own liking. Fat walks with Max to the train station, where Max is picking up a box of books for the school. At the station, a stranger by the name of Nathan Sparks asks Pete, the station master, to look for his shipment, some camera equipment from Associated Screen Productions. Pete can't find it, and tells Nathan that a mistake must be from the shipping end and that he should contact the shipper using the telephone at the hotel.
At the hotel, Nathan is on the phone to his producer, Bert Potter, telling him that the camera equipment never arrived and will wait only one more day for its arrival. Grace is just exiting the tea room and overhears the fact that Nathan is a movie director from Winnipeg. Excited, Grace follows Nathan back into the tea room, where Nathan wants to grab a sandwich. In the tea room, Nathan notices Grace watching him from the next table over, and finally asks her what she wants. She tells him that she did overhear his conversation and is fascinated by his job. He elaborates that he directs newsreels and is on his way to Callander to make a movie about the Dionne Quintuplets. Although Grace is equally as fascinated by the quints, Nathan obviously hates this assignment, the story having been done to death. But Grace invites Nathan to dinner that evening at the Bailey home to discuss the project as she has a scrapbook on the story. Nathan graciously accepts.
At home, May wants to talk to Grace about her behavior at the tea room, but Grace only wants to tell her and Toppy of Nathan coming for dinner. May is horrified that Grace would invite a total stranger to dinner, Grace responding that he is no longer a stranger since she spoke to him for over 20 minutes and that this is nothing more than Christian charity. May is unavailable regardless, but Grace and Toppy rush into the kitchen to see what special is in the icebox to cook for dinner.
In the school gym, Fat is helping Max sort sports inventory, Fat who doesn't want to impose on his brother at home. Reverend McLellan walks in and asks Max for a favor: the Booster Society has decided on a plan and would like Max's help in organizing. The plan is to hold a public speaking contest at the school on the topic of why one is proud to live in New Bedford, the finalists to have their speech read on the radio. Fat negotiates the winner also having his/her picture on the front page of the newspaper. Fat now knows what he will focus his energies on in light of his brother not wanting to spend time with him.
Later at dinner at the Bailey home, Grace is showing Nathan her scrapbook on the Dionne's. In speaking about his job, Nathan reiterates that it is just that: a job. But he confesses his dreams of what he would like to do: make films of social significance and a force for change. May, just heading off to her evening meeting, expresses Nathan's own concerns about the sorry state of movies in general. Grace encourages Nathan to make the movies he wants, even placing a social spin on his newsreels. But further confessing, Nathan tells of his satchel full of half finished movie ideas, the satchel - his dream container - which he takes everywhere. Grace, the movie fanatic, tells him that all good movies start with a dream. The evening ends with Nathan thanking Grace for dinner, the two probably never seeing each other again as he will probably be off first thing in the morning to Callander. After Nathan leaves, Toppy sees that he has forgotten his satchel. Rather than run off after him, Grace decides to keep it for the time being. She sees him forgetting his satchel as fate, that she was destined to help him make a movie. In the middle of the night at the kitchen table, Grace is sitting rifling through the storyboards and notes in Nathan's satchel. May, walking into the kitchen, is horrified that Grace would go through his private papers, Grace responding that he offered to show them to her sometime. Grace sees her dreams of being in the movies all the more real looking at his notes.
The next morning, Grace sees Nathan in the hotel lobby, he again talking to Bert on the telephone. Once he is off the phone, Grace returns his satchel, she admitting that she looked through his papers. He is not offended by her actions and asks her opinion. She responds that she was moved by the reality of one of the stories in particular, that of a farmer who is facing foreclosure on his property. Although Nathan still sees making that or any of his movies as a pipe dream, he invites Grace to breakfast to discuss matters further. At the Bailey kitchen table, Nathan and Grace discuss the movie, Grace convincing him that New Bedford has the right gritty qualities as the filming location. Nathan, excited, asks Grace if she has a camera to shoot location stills. Grace and Nathan wander around town, him taking photos of what he considers the perfect locales, the more depressed, the better. He even shoots townsfolk, including a group of old men in the hotel lobby. Fat, Hub and Buck, entering, are intrigued. Nathan allows them into the photo, only if they all look mad. Callie, stumbling across what's going on in the lobby, also wants in on the movie. Everyone is excited at the prospect of movie stardom. Fat, Buck and Hub mimic their favorite lines from movies. The Cramps negotiate major speaking roles for use of the hotel, newspaper or radio station as a filming locale. Upon seeing Ollie's garage, Nathan knows he has found a perfect location for shooting. He changes the lead character from being a farmer to a mechanic, and he sees the stars as being Ollie, Grace and Fat as husband, wife and son. Ollie is enjoying this turn of events if only to be with Grace, although he admits he is not actor material. Nathan wants real life people acting this real life story.
At the school gym, Grace introduces Nathan to Max, who she sees as the screenwriter. Max offers Nathan some interesting and intriguing story suggestions that he had never even contemplated. Nathan wants Max as screenwriter using all Max's ideas.
At the Sutton apartment, Fat is rehearsing his why I'm proud to live in New Bedford speech in front of the mirror, the speech primarily about being able to see Tom Mix movies, with great details of the movies themselves. Walking in on him, Hub and Buck think the speech is wrong since it says nothing about New Bedford itself. Fat is angry and rushes off.
Ollie has Nathan's stills developed by the Cramps. Ollie is all dressed up in anticipation of seeing Grace. Upon seeing the photos, Nathan is energized as the look is perfect. The bubble bursts slightly when Bert Potter calls, telling Nathan to stop working on this project and to get back to working on the Dionne story. Grace has another idea: with the camera equipment soon to arrive in New Bedford, Nathan should make a 10 minute demo film for Potter's approval. The short film is underway.
The first filming scene takes place in the school gym. Everyone is overacting. Callie in particular wants to be in every scene.
Hub and Buck are feeling left out. They ask Fat if he will ask Nathan if they too can be in the movie. Fat thinks this is a decision for Max, but Max apparently told Hub to ask Fat. Fat agrees to talk to Nathan.
While Grace and Ollie set up the gym for another scene alone late one afternoon, Ollie reminisces about their high school days and how he had a crush on her then. He asks her if she would be interested to going to see a movie with him sometime, she politely declining his invitation, not wanting to lead him on. Ollie is dejected but accepts her answer.
Arriving home, Grace catches Toppy reading Madame Stella's manual and practicing the dance moves mentioned on the phonograph recording. Toppy is embarrassed when she sees Grace. They speak of the failure of the Firm Flex venture and the excitement of the movie, especially if it results in a trip to Hollywood. Toppy wants Clark Gable, and will leave all the other male movie stars to Grace.
Nathan is filming the bank scene for the movie in the school gym. It is going as well or as badly as all the other scenes, but Nathan is still enthused. Just then, Bert Potter arrives in New Bedford by car looking for Nathan. As they move the filming to the garage, Bert finally sees Nathan. Bert pulls Nathan aside for a chat.
Back at the hotel, Bert and Nathan are speaking loudly but in private, while all the actors listen from the next room. Bert and Nathan argue about the value of such a movie, Nathan who defends its realism, Bert who states that the audience will be ready to jump off window ledges after seeing it due to depression. Bert gives Nathan an ultimatum: get back to working on the newsreels, or get fired. Nathan faces reality.
Nathan tells the actors that the movie is finished and apologizes for wasting their time. Grace still thinks she can convince Potter. Nathan tells her to give up and that its time to face reality, not just about this movie, but about dealing with getting on with real life. Everyone is devastated by this news, but Grace is especially hard hit about it affecting her entire life.
Outside the Bailey house, there is a garbage can with a blazing fire within. Grace approaches it with her movie magazines in hand, throwing them one by one into the fire.
Later, a depressed Grace heads down to the railway station with her Firm Flex packages in hand to send them back. On her way, Nathan sees her just as he and Potter are ready to leave town. Nathan, rushes up to her and apologizes. He tells her that he has a new attitude in life: make his dreams reality one step at a time and do something everyday to achieve that dream. He suggests to her to do the same. Grace accepts the apology but sees her life still as being a depressed one compared to what he can do. She bids him a fond farewell.
After dropping her packages off, Grace stops in at the tea room for refreshments by herself. Ollie sees her alone and depressed. He offers to buy her coffee. Grace openly wonders why her life is such a disappointment. Just then, the speeches on why I'm proud to live in New Bedford are aired, the radio on in the tea room. Fat's voice comes through the radio. He talks about his Aunt Grace, and her ability to believe in dreams. Grace blushes at the speech, which garners applause by those in the tea room.
Outside the radio station, Grace goes to thank Fat for the heartwarming speech, which he tells her was all true. Grace now has a renewed outlook on her life. But true to Fat's speech, Grace offers to take Fat to the latest Tom Mix serial playing at the movie house.