Shirley MacLaine plays Charity Hope Valentine who, despite her job at a seedy dime-a-dance joint, is an incurable optimist. Charity never stops looking for true love and never seems to look for it in the right places. We first see her in the company of Charlie (Dante DiPaolo), a slimeball who steals her purse and pushes her into the Central Park pond. Next she stumbles into a one-night stand with Vittorio Vidal (Ricardo Montalban), an egotistical movie star; this comes to nothing when Vittorio's contrite girlfriend Ursula (Barbara Bouchet) comes calling, forcing Charity to spend the night hiding in the closet. Desperate to escape the dance hall, Charity heads to an employment agency, where a bureaucratic clerk (Alan Hewitt) informs her that she has no qualifications. Unhappily, Charity heads for the elevator, where she becomes trapped with the very shy -- and very claustrophobic -- Oscar Lindquist (John McMartin). Once they've gotten out of the stalled elevator, Charity begins dating Oscar, never telling him of her checkered past or her sordid dance-hall job. Oscar eventually finds out but assures her that it doesn't matter. However, at the engagement party held at the dance hall, Oscar's puritanical streak emerges. He walks out on Charity, leaving her alone and heartbroken once more. With the help of a group of flower children (among them Bud Cort and Kristoffer Tabori), Charity is able to pick herself up and start living "Hopefully Ever After." Sweet Charity was adapted from the 1965 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by the 1957 Fellini flick Nights of Cabiria.