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The plot involves the romances of musical comedy stars, set against the backstage hubbub of a Broadway revue. Anita Page and Bessie Love play a vaudeville sister act who have come to New York for their big break on Broadway. Charles King plays the song-and-dance man whose affection for one sister (Harriet alias Hank) is supplanted by his growing love for the younger, more beautiful sister (Queenie). Queenie tries to protect her sister and derail the love triangle by dating a wealthy but unscrupulous "stage door Johnny."
The movie opens with Eddie Kearns debuting “The Broadway Melody.” He tells some chorus girls he’s brought the Mahoney Sisters to New York to perform it with him in Francis Zanfield’s latest revue. Hank and Queenie Mahoney are awaiting Eddie’s arrival at their apartment. Hank, the older sister, prides herself on her business sense and talent while Queenie is lauded for her beauty. Hank is confident they will make it big while Queenie is less eager to put everything on the line to be stars. Their Uncle Jed arrives to tell them he’s gotten them a job with a 30-week traveling show. Hank tells him they’re not interested but he says he’ll give them time to think it over.
Eddie, who is engaged to Hank, arrives and sees Queenie for the first time since she was a girl and is instantly taken with her. He tells them to come to rehearsal for Zanfield’s revue to present their act. Zanfield isn’t interested in it but says he might have a use for Queenie, who begs him to give Hank a part as well. She also convinces him to pretend Hank’s business skills won him over. Eddie witnesses this exchange and becomes even more enamored of Queenie for her devotion to her sister. During dress rehearsal for the revue Zanfield says the pacing is too slow for “The Broadway Melody” and cuts Hank and Queenie from the number. Meanwhile, another girl is injured after falling off a prop and Queenie is selected to replace her. Nearly everyone is captivated by Queenie, particularly notorious playboy Jacques “Jock” Warriner. While Jock begins to woo Queenie, Hank is upset that Queenie is building her success on her looks rather than her talent.
Over the next couple weeks Queenie spends a lot time with Jock, of which Hank and Eddie fervently disapprove. They forbid her from seeing him, which results in Queenie pushing them away and deterioration of the relationship between the sisters. Queenie is only with Jock to fight growing feelings for Eddie but Hank thinks she’s setting herself up to be hurt. Eventually, Eddie and Queenie confess their love for each other but Queenie, unwilling to break her sister’s heart, runs off to Jock once again.
Hank, after witnessing Queenie’s fierce outburst toward Eddie and his devastated reaction to it, finally realizes they are in love. She berates Eddie for letting Queenie run away and tells him to go after her. She claims to never have loved him and that she’d only been using him to advance her career. After he leaves she breaks down and alternates between sobs and hysterical laughter. She composes herself enough to call Uncle Jed to accept the job with the 30-week show.
There’s a raucous party at the apartment Jock had recently purchased for Queenie but he insists they spend time alone. When she resists his advances he says it’s the least she could do after all he’s done for her. He begins to get physical but Eddie bursts in and attempts to fight Jock, who knocks him through the door with one punch. Queenie runs to Eddie and leaves Jock and the party behind.
Sometime later, Hank and Uncle Jed await the arrival of Queenie and Eddie from their honeymoon. The relationship between the sisters is on the mend but there is obvious discomfort between Hank and Eddie. Queenie announces she’s through with show business and will settle down in their new house on Long Island. She insists that Hank lives with them when her job is over. After Hank leaves with her new partner and Uncle Jed, Queenie laments the fact that her sister hasn’t found the happiness she deserves. The final scene is of a distraught Hank on her way to the train station.