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In San Francisco, newlywed Ginny O'Sullivan Nelson is cheerfully hanging paintings to decorate her new home when neighborhood teenagers hurl stones through the living room window. Terrified, Ginny telephones her husband Roderic "Chuck" Nelson who rushes home immediately and confronts the belligerent teens still menacing the house. Ginny runs out onto the lawn to intervene in the shouting match and, when one boy flings her to the ground, Chuck attacks him. The fight is broken up by the arrival of the police who take everyone but Ginny into custody. At the police station, the father of one of the disruptive boys enrages Chuck by insisting that Ginny taunted the youths by appearing half-dressed in the windows of her living room. On her way to the station to help Chuck, Ginny is picked up by the police and she and Chuck are grilled in separate police rooms about the event. Despite Ginny's explanations, the police insist that she played a part in starting the brawl and invite the press to the room, many of whom mock her and suggest she return to her home in Mexico. The goading prompts Ginny to recall her meeting Chuck: Several weeks earlier, Chuck and his brother Lexington arrive at a quiet Mexican coastal village for a week of fishing with Capt. Tom O'Sullivan. Lex, who has made the trip regularly, hopes the change of scenery will engage Chuck, who is still recovering from two years in a Korean prisoner-of-war camp. The next day while out walking, Chuck comes upon Tom's daughter Ginny swimming nude in an inlet and, after asking for a moment's privacy to dress, Ginny joins Chuck on shore. When Ginny inquires about Chuck's POW experience, he responds bitterly, then apologizes, realizing Ginny was offering him understanding. A couple of days later, Lex and Chuck receive a telegram from their mother Cornelia, requesting they return to handle a political matter regarding their vast, wealthy company. Enjoying the calm atmosphere and Ginny's company, Chuck asks to remain behind and Lex, pleased to see an emotional improvement in his brother, readily agrees. Over the next several days, Chuck and Ginny become close and one afternoon, while describing how she and Tom came to live in Mexico from Spain, Ginny reveals that her maternal grandfather was a Spaniard who married a Portuguese-Angolian woman. When Chuck fails to respond, Ginny points out that her grandmother was a black African, making her one-quarter black. Instead of expressing concern, Chuck declares that knowing her has provided him the first happiness since his return from the war and announces his intention to remain in Mexico. Soon after, Chuck is dismayed when Tom gives him a note from Ginny informing him that she has gone to Mexico City. Puzzled, Chuck asks Tom for an explanation and the older man says his daughter was concerned about her and Tom's relationship. When Chuck asks about Tom's own situation with his wife, Tom explains that he chose to live in Spain and accept the role as outsider. Chuck then hastens to the bus station where he stops Ginny from departing and proposes. Stunned, but delighted, Ginny accepts. Chuck and Ginny marry in San Francisco where Ginny is surprised to discover the importance of the wealthy Nelson family. After a warm welcome from Cornelia, Ginny and Chuck go to the UpBeat Club, owned by Ginny's cousin Maria and her black husband, Cy Robbin. To the Nelsons' dismay, their connection to Maria and Cy is discovered by the press who splash the story on the front page of a quadroon marrying into one of the city's most affluent families. Cornelia contacts Chuck to express her shock and pity, but when her son tells her that he is happy she insists that he is ill. Chuck buys a home in a modest neighborhood, but is disturbed when on the couple's first evening there, three neighbors visit to inform him that their neighborhood forbids "colored people." Despite their frustration, Chuck and Ginny decide to remain in the house. In the present, Cornelia, Lex and family attorney Clinton Page arrive at the police station and press the dazed Chuck to blame the fight on Ginny. When Cornelia insists that Chuck admit he did know of Ginny's racial background, Chuck, confused and weary, imagines himself under interrogation at the POW camp. The Nelsons take Chuck home and Ginny is later released and returns home alone. At the Nelson estate, Cornelia keeps Chuck sedated and refuses to allow Ginny to visit. Maria stops by Ginny's home to offer her sympathy and bitterly warn her against whites. After Chuck telephones Ginny and then forced by Lex to hang up, Ginny pleads with Maria for help. At the UpBeat, Cy grudgingly agrees to assist Ginny and introduces her to Asa Tully, a black attorney who has had to work other jobs due to discrimination. Asa immediately threatens Cornelia with a court order forcing her to let them see Chuck, but upon arriving at the estate, Ginny is met by a process server with annulment papers, declaring Ginny did not reveal her background to Chuck before the marriage. A few days later at the hearing, Asa protests Chuck's absence, blamed on illness, but Ginny insists they proceed. Page attempts to portray Ginny as manipulative and deceitful, which Asa successfully counters as untrue. Despite Cornelia's attempts to keep Chuck from court, he insists on testifying and, believing that he is helping stop his family's attacks on Ginny, states she did not tell him of her race prior to their wedding. Asa then questions Ginny who admits that Chuck saw her swimming in the nude more than once in Mexico and saw how dark her skin was before their marriage. When Asa asks Ginny to allow her skin to be shown in the courtroom, she agrees. After the judge dismisses the rabid press, Asa dramatically rips the back of Ginny's dress to expose her skin. Furious, Chuck leaps forward to cover Ginny with his jacket and insist that he loves her and does not wish an annulment. Leading his wife from the courtroom, Chuck tells the barrage of reporters he does not know where they will live, but assures them that he feels human again.