Every actor and actress have one career goal: win an Oscar.
But for Frankie Fane (Stephen Boyd) receiving an Academy Award nomination is just the icing on the cake as his career begins to nosedive into obscurity and all of his secrets come to light in the days before the ceremony.
Beginning at the ceremony, the story is told through the eyes of Frankie's former best friend Hymie Kelly (Tony Bennett) as the list of nominees are announced and just as Frankie's name, the movie goes into the past where the two of them are in an illegal strip club.
The two, along with stripper Laurel Scott (Jill St. John) travel from town to town where she performs in rowdy bars and backrooms.
When they're stiffed following a performance, Frankie beats up the manager and while on the way out of town, they're pulled over by the local sheriff and taken to jail. They manage to post bail and then head to New York City.
The three share an apartment and Laurel is supporting Frankie (we don't really know what Hymie's job is) while he caterwauls around town. She tells him that when she's done with work, the two are going to have a talk.
Hymie tells Frankie of a swinging party and the two go, where they meet Kay Bergdahl. Frankie falls for her instantly and then leaves Laurel to be with her.
Kay gets him a job at the fashion house that she works at and for someone who wants to be a fashion designer, she's designed some costumes for an upcoming play and the two go to the theater where the rehearsal is being held.
Frankie sits in the audience and once Kay is done with her business; he hops on the stage where he grabs a knife from one of the actors and shows him how a street fight is done. Everyone on stage is frightened by him, but also in the empty auditorium is casting director Sophie Cantaro (Eleanor Parker). She's immediately taken with him and flies him out to Hollywood.
Sophie talks to power agent Kappy Kapstetter (Milton Berle) and he agrees to represent him and negotiates a contract with studio head Kenneth Regan (Joseph Cotten).
In an effort to get him seen in public, Frankie is set up on a studio date with Cheryl Barker (Jean Hale) and he "agrees" to her demands, but when out in public, he upstages her putting her into a bad light. This publicity stunt gets him noticed and soon he becomes the talk of the town and lands the hottest roles.
While his fame and ego grows, he brings Hymie out to Los Angeles and asks him whatever happened to Laurel. He tells him that he married her and she was dead. Hymie's news doesn't move Frankie in the slightest and when he takes him to the studio, he sees Kay working with real life costumer Edith Head.
He goes out with Cheryl again and when he sees Kay out on a date, he dumps Cheryl, while real life gossip columnist Hedda Hopper gets the scoop on him and Cheryl. Cheryl's not too happy when her picture appears in the paper the next day.
Eventually, Frankie follows Kay home and they end up going out to his boat, which he's named after her. They argue and the next day he takes her to the bullfights in Tijuana.
The only reason he went to the bullfight was he was invited to make an appearance and to show off Kay.
Seated next to them are the Yale's (Edie Adams and Ernest Borgnine) and they tell them that they're down there for a quickie divorce. After divorcing, the foursome go out to celebrate, but find themselves back at the marriage broker's (Eddie Ryder) office where Kay and Frankie get married.
Following a one night honeymoon, Frankie is aloof toward Kay and they head back to Los Angeles where he continues to have affairs on Kay. He's also demanded that she become a designer rather than a sketch artist at the studio.
His demands and actions start to get out of control and when his contract is up for renewal, he thinks that Regan will automatically renew it, but his demands get the best of him and he's becoming box office poison.
As the roles begin to dry up, he realizes that he has no money and on the day that he's going to sign a contract for a television series, he gets a call from Hymie telling him that he's been nominated for an Oscar.
Frankie tells everyone in the meeting what they can do with the offer and his main goal now is to win the little gold man.
He hires Barney Yale (who's a private investigator) to plant a story about him in the papers revealing his past life and to make it look like one of the other nominees leaked it to the press.
However, he holds a press conference and he admits to his past and thinks that by him telling "the truth" the voters of the Academy will give him the sympathy vote.
While still not satisfied with the results of his campaigning for an Oscar, he tracks Trina Yale down from one of the extra's casting agencies and she gives him an earful about Barney and he then confronts him, since he's blackmailing him.
As the big night approaches, Frankie's lies and actions begin to catch up with him as he sits in the auditorium with the other nominees as he waits for his name to be called.
But will he win?
This is a really slow and campy movie and was itself nominated for three Academy Awards.
Personally, I thought the best performance came from Hale since she was brilliant with the character of Cheryl Barker. As a starlet in the movie, she played it with perfection and I think the movie would have been a lot better if she were in it more.