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A once-great European film director moves into a seedy boarding house in Paradise Alley, a rundown section of Los Angeles. The boarders, who include the teenaged children of quarreling parents, an unwed mother, a stripper, a landlady, and the local busybody, all have their personal problems, and the ex-director sets out to prove that, in spite of the day-to-day bickerings, each of them is basically kind. With the aid of a former motion picture cameraman, the director announces he is shooting a film and asks for volunteers from the boarders; unknown to them, the movie does not exist--there is no film in the camera. Central Casting then calls on the director to accept a bit part in a movie, and when the director reveals his plan to the head of Central Casting, the latter supplies him with means to make an actual movie featuring the people of Paradise Alley.