Two sisters from Indiana, the wide-eyed, innocent and beautiful Mae Thorpe, and her streetwise sister June, move into the Rolf House for Homeless Girls in New York. With June’s help, Mae obtains a job as a stenographer for a scientist, while June gets work as a telegraph operator at Western Union.
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Their dynamic with each other, the other girls in the boardinghouse and their gentleman suitors (June later falls for the professor with whom Mae had previously been involved) is navigated with more nuance than other films of its era, Arzner foregrounding the women’s personal evolution over details of romantic preoccupations.