Harold Hill, the fast-talking traveling salesman, arrives in River City, Iowa, to see if he can persuade the uptight town to start a marching band. He convinces locals that the new pool table is nothing but trouble, and the only way to save their children is by purchasing uniforms and instruments so they can join his band. The catch? He doesn't know a trombone from a treble clef, and plans to flee with the cash. His scheme is threatened when the beautiful Marian, the town’s piano teacher, sees through his lies to the man he is inside and forces him to face a difficult decision about skipping town.