The studio hasn't been turning a profit but young hotshot Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard) advises the elderly bank trustees not to sell it. He stakes his reputation on his mathematical calculations that show Colossal should turn a profit. His bosses send him to shiny Hollywood to investigate.
In Hollywood, a radio commentator gives us (but not Dodd) the inside scoop: Colossal's star actress, Thelma Cheri (Marla Shelton), and eccentric director Koslofski (Alan Mowbray) are running up costs on producer Douglas Quintain's (Humphrey Bogart) feature, "Sex and Satan".
Thelma and Koslofski are doing so in conspiracy with a rival producer, Ivor Nassau (C. Henry Gordon), who wants to acquire Colossal for its physical plot. Atterbury Dodd stumbles into this situation and meets Lester Plum (Joan Blondell) the loveable Hollywood stand-in who while helping Dodd understand the exciting new world of Hollywood also teaches him about love and the importance of others.
The films climax is reached when Dodd and Quintain work together to prevent a strike, finish "Sex and Satan" in time to turn a profit and prevent the studio from being sold.
One of the films main objectives it to show Hollywood as judged by an outsider, this starts out comically but soon the films outsider (Dodd) discovers an understandable side of Hollywood.
Atterbury Dodd: Hasn't anyone an answer for stupidity besides "that's the picture business"?
Studio Employee: I'm sorry Mr. Dodd, but that's the only answer.