It’s early morning in December 1933 and the orphans are in the dormitory of The New York City Municipal Orphanage. Annie, a feisty eleven year old, is cleaning, when she hears the other girls arguing. They are having a go at little Molly who woke them by crying out for her mother. Annie comforts Molly by re-telling the story of how her parents left her at the Orphanage with half of a silver locket, which she treasures dearly. She reads the note that her parents left her telling her that they will be back for her and that she will know who they are by the fact that they have the other half of the locket. Thinking about her parents inspires her to run away from the Orphanage and the cruel, drunk Miss Hannigan, The Director of the Orphanage. Sadly, she gets caught and all the girls are set to work cleaning to pay for Annie’s actions.
Annie runs away the next morning by climbing into a laundry basket – helped by the other girls – but again, sadly she gets caught and gets sent back to the Orphanage. As Miss Hannigan is berating Annie for running away, a well dressed woman, Grace Farrell, arrives explaining that she is the privatesecretary to the billionaire Mr. Warbucks and he would like to invite an orphan to spend Christmas with him. Naturally, Miss Hannigan is against Annie being picked, but Grace is enchanted by Annie and insists she is the one.
Annie loves being at Warbucks’ mansion. She is overwhelmed by the opulence and the welcoming servants.
Miss Hannigan’s petty criminal brother, Rooster, and his girlfriend Lily, turn up at the Orphanage and the three lament the good fortune of Annie.
Warbucks is smitten by Annie and decides to adopt her. He tells Annie of his intention and realises that she still holds out hope of finding her real parents. He then makes it his mission to find her parents and offers a reward of $50,000. Rooster and Lily then come up with the plan to pretend to be Annie’s real parents and they disguise themselves as Ralph and Shirley Mudge and set about claiming Annie (and the money!). They nearly have everyone fooled. Fortunately, Warbucks’ FBI connections mean that he was able to have the note Annie has from her parents examined. It was found that Annie’s real parents had died and that the Mudges were imposters.
Miss Hannigan tries to extricate herself from being involved, but she is hauled off to jail with the other two. Warbucks and Annie (and all the other orphans) then go on to a much better life.