Young Joe Lampton arrives in post-World War Two Warley to work at the town's treasury office and rents a room at the top of the house of kindly Mr and Mrs Thompson. Through their friends, the Storrs, he joins the local amateur dramatics group where he meets the older, unhappily married Alice Aisgill and they soon hit it off. At Alice's suggestion, he dates innocent young Susan Brown even though she has a boyfriend in student Jack Wales, but his friendship with Alice soon turns to a sexual affair. He nonetheless pursues Susan, who is flattered by his attentions. At a civic ball, Jack tries to humiliate Joe but Joe impresses Susan's wealthy businessman father with his candour. Soon Joe and Susan are having sex and declaring their love for each other - even though Joe is also in love with Alice.
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