The Marx Brothers try and put on a play before their landlord finds out that they have run out of money. To confuse the landlord they pretend that the play’s author has contracted some terrible disease and can’t be moved. Originally a stage play, the setting shows it’s origins, but this is vintage Marx Brothers.
Gordon Miller (Groucho Marx) is a New York City theater producer trying to get funding to release his latest stage play 'Hail and Farewell'. His trusted inner-core staff include his con-artist, Italian half-brother Harry Binelli (Chico Marx) and Binelli's mute cousin Faker Englund (Harpo Marx). They are staying in a fancy Midtown Hotel and hope to put on a good show.Miller and his group have assembled the cast and crew of the play in the hotel ballroom, as well as a substantial debt to the hotel. Miller is planning on skipping out on the hotel without paying the bill when he receives word that one of his actresses, Christine Marlowe (Lucille Ball), has arranged for a backer, the mysterious Zachary Fisk. Miller must keep his room and hide the cast and crew until the meeting with the backer can take place.At the same time, a troubleshooter for the hotel chain, Gregory Wagner (Donald MacBride) discovers the debt. Assured by hotel manager Joe Gribble (Cliff Dunstan), who happens to be Miller's brother-in-law, that Miller had skipped, Wagner is surprised to find Miller still in his room, now joined by the play's author, Leo Davis (Frank Albertson), who has arrived in town and checked into Miller's room.When Wagner threatens to evict Miller before the backer can arrive, Miller and Binelli convince Davis to pretend to be sick. To obtain food, Miller promises waiter Sasha Smirnoff (Alexander Asro) a part in the play. When Davis leaves to spoon with girlfriend Hilda Manney (Ann Miller), Faker takes over as the sick patient examined by a doctor brought in by Mr. Wagner. Wagner leaves to confront the crowd in the ballroom, while the doctor examines the patient. To delay the doctor giving his report to Wagner, Binelli and Miller tie him up, gag him, and lock him in the bathroom. The agent for Mr. Fisk arrives to sign over the check, the doctor breaks free in the bathroom, and the agent is hit on the head accidentally as Faker chases a flying turkey around with a baseball bat. The agent just wants to escape the madness, but reluctantly signs over the check, and leaves.Davis returns and says he heard the agent saying he'll cancel the check, and just signed it to get out of the room. Wagner is fooled into believing all is okay, and upgrades the boys to a fancier room. Later, as the play is about to open, the check from Fisk bounces, Miller, Binelli, and Faker manipulate Wagner into believing he's driven the play's author to take poison. They pretend to give Davis large quantities of Ipecac which is actually drank by Faker, who eventually pretends to die. Wagner is bluffed into believing it's all his fault and helps take the "body" down to the alley. As Miller and Wagner prop Faker on a crate, a passing policeman asks what's going on. Miller bluffs their way out of the situation, so he and Wagner make an escape, leaving Faker "asleep".They go to watch the end of the play, which is a scene where the miners are bringing a body from out of the mine. The body on the stretcher is Faker's. Wagner realizes he's been duped as the play is greeted with thunderous applause and a revived Davis appears next to Wagner at the back of the theater.