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Set in 1941, the film focuses on Mamie Stover (Jane Russell), a San Francisco prostitute who is chased away from the city by several policemen. Sent away on a boat, she sets out to Honolulu, where onboard she meets Jim Blair (Richard Egan), a successful writer who thinks of Mamie as a Cinderella-like beauty. Flattered, Mamie enjoys not being associated with her less-than glamorous occupation and falls in love with the man. A shipboard romance is cut short when Mamie notices Jim being romantically welcomed ashore by his sweetheart Annalee (Joan Leslie).As they part, Jim lends Mamie $100 to help her build a career. Afterwards, she visits an old friend, Jackie Davis (Jorja Curtright), who introduces her to the mean-spirited owner of a honky-tonk, Bertha Parchman (Agnes Moorehead). Even more cold-hearted is Bertha's vicious and sadistic manager Harry Adkins (Michael Pate), who thinks very lowly of the hostesses working at the club. Mamie applies for a job, even though it means that she is not allowed to have a boyfriend, visit Waikiki Beach or open a bank account.Sometime later, Mamie, having earned enough money, pays back her debt with Jim and invites him to the night club. Jim finds out that Mamie has become the main attraction of the club, and that she has even acquired the nickname 'Flaming Mamie'. Mamie is disappointed by Jim's disapproval of her job, and rejects an offer to return home. Instead, she convinces him to rekindle their affair. This puts a string on his relationship with Annalee, the latter feeling jealous and hurt by the amount of attention that Jim is giving Mamie.Meanwhile, Mamie convinces Jim to write out a check to her father on her behalf, though a response addressed to 'Mrs. Jim Blair' upsets Jim. He reluctantly agrees to go along with the lie, and later even backs up Mamie when Harry beats her up for going out with Jim. The bombing of Pearl Harbor temporarily fades the personal setbacks that Mamie is enduring, and she instead capitalizes on the attack by purchasing a piece of land cheaply and renting it out.In his return, Jim responds to Pearl Harbor by enlisting the infantry. Shortly before leaving, he convinces Mamie to marry him after World War II and leave the honky-tonk. Returning to the club to announce her resignation, Mamie finds out that Harry has been fired for inflictments with the military police. Bertha, fearing to lose the biggest attraction of the club, promises to make Mamie a star and furthermore offers her half of the profits, as well as a possibility to deceive Jim.Misleading Jim does not work, though, as he receives a promotional poster of Mamie, posing for a performance at the club. Before he can respond to it, he is hit and wounded by a bomb. He is granted to leave because of his injury, and immediately returns to Hawaii to confront Mamie. After an argument, Jim concludes that their lives are too different, and he leaves her for good. Heartbroken, Mamie leaves Hawaii, and while in San Francisco as a rest stop, she tells a police officer that she has lost a fortune.