After returning from studies overseas, Fisher falls in love with Jimmy (Evans), the down-and-out son of an alcoholic father (Strathairn) and an insane mother who works at a store on her family's plantation. She tries to pass him off as an upper-class suitor to appease the spinster aunt (Ann-Margret) who controls her family's fortune, but when she loses a diamond, it places their tenuous relationship in further jeopardy. Burstyn is attached to play Fisher's mother.
'Aki Kaurismaki' said in an interview that this is the only film he has made where he either was drunk or had a serious hangover while shooting. The lengthy monologue of Matti Pellonpää is an exact rendition of the poem "La grasse matinée", written by poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert.