Cast: Colleen Moore (Ella Cinders), Lloyd Hughes (Waite Lifter/George Waite), Vera Lewis (Ma Cinders), Emily Gerdes (Prissy Pill), Doris Baker (Lotta Pill), Mike Donlin (Film Studio Gateman), Jed Prouty (Mayor), Jack Duffy (Fire Chief), Harry Allen (Photographer), Alfred E. Green (Director), cameo appearance by Harry Langdon.
Ella Cinders lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters, Lotta Pill and Prissy Pill. She is nothing more than a slave around her household cleaning the furnace, washing and ironing all the clothes, cleaning the house and jumping every time one of them shouts her name.
Her only happiness seems to come during the moments the local ice man, Waite Lifter, spends with her. He is described as her "friend and champion."
One day, she learns of a contest being conducted by the Gem Film Company. The winner of the contest will receive an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood and an opportunity to appear in a movie. To enter the contest, girls must submit a photograph of themselves. In order to raise the $3 for the sitting, Ella spends three nights babysitting the neighbor's four children. At the sitting, the photographer unwittingly take a picture of her while she's looking cross-eyed at a fly on her nose. Ella doesn't realize this is the photograph that she will be entering in the contest.
Entrants must appear at a ball which is being held at the Town Hall. Ella's stepmother and stepsisters won't allow her to go, so she sits on the front steps of her home crying. Waite comes along and tells her he will take her. When she complains of nothing to wear, he convinces her to use one of her stepsisters' dresses.
As she stands before the judges' table at the ball, her stepmother and stepsisters notice her and the dress she has on. While her stepmother berates her, the stepsisters start jerking pieces of her clothing and accessories from her. Embarrassed and hurt, she runs from the ball losing one of her slippers in the process.
The next day, the judges come to the house and announce that Ella is the winner of the contest. It turns out that they preferred Ella's " funny" photograph over the others that were submitted. Ella's stepmother and stepsisters are furious since they expected Lotta to win. When Ella leaves to go to Hollywood, they won't even speak to her.
When she arrives in Hollywood, she goes to the studio but finds out the entire contest was a hoax conducted by a couple of "sharpers." Ella is disheartened but refuses to go back home and face the embarrassment.
Living on as little as possible, Ella makes the rounds of the studios trying to get work. At one studio, she tries several methods to get past the guard at the gate - posing as a one of several children a mother is taking in the gate and posing as one of the "stars" by putting the bust of a mannequin on her head and hiding the rest of herself with a huge wrap. However, a playful dog pulls the wrap away and reveals her ruse, and she takes off into the studio with the guard in hot pursuit.
She accidently goes into a lion's cage and turns him loose. With the lion in pursuit, she runs onto a set where they are filming a burning building. Not realizing where she is, Ella is almost hysterical with the lion outside the door and fire blazing all around her. The director and crew think she is the extra girl who was hired for the part and are pleased with her "performance." Even though the mistake is revealed, the director is so pleased with her that he offers her a job in his next picture.
As Ella's career takes off, we learn that Waite Lifter is not really an ice man. He is George Waite, a college football hero and the only son in a wealthy family. He doesn't know of Ella's success in Hollywood but decides he wants to marry her and goes to Hollywood to propose.
When he gets off the train, he happens upon Ella on her knees scrubbing the walk outside a large building. Thinking she is destitute, he forces her to get on the train with him. What he doesn't realize is that she was filming a scene for her next picture.
All is eventually cleared up, and the two are happily married.