The film begins in an unspecified year of the 1960s with Jude, a young shipyard worker in Liverpool, reminiscing about a girl he once knew and loved ("Girl (Beatles song)"). A few months prior, Jude enlisted in the Merchant Navy (United Kingdom) and jumped ship in New Jersey, hoping to find his American G.I. (military) father, whom he has never met ("Hold Me Tight", "All My Loving"). Meanwhile, Lucy Carrigan worries about her boyfriend, Daniel, who is headed for service in the Vietnam War. In Dayton, Ohio, Prudence pines for a fellow female cheerleader ("I Want to Hold Your Hand"), and then drops out of school in shame. Jude meets his father, who is a janitor at Princeton University, and befriends Lucy's brother, the privileged and rebellious student named Max ("With a Little Help from My Friends"). Lucy receives a letter from Daniel ("It Won't Be Long"), but when Max brings Jude home with him for Thanksgiving, Jude becomes attracted to Lucy ("I've Just Seen a Face").