powered by AFI
DVDs from TCM Shop
In Austria, distinguished members of the Emperor's Guard are trained to live by a strict code of honor that mandates that they pay their debts promptly or pay with their lives. Abiding by the code, Lieutenant Von Lear commits suicide after being admonished for poor conduct and the mishandling of his debts. In an attempt to prevent a similar fate from befalling his nephew, officer Willi Kasda, General von Hartz urges him to marry the wealthy Emily Kessner to rid himself of his financial woes. Willi, however, dislikes the idea of "getting out of monetary difficulties by getting into marital difficulties," and takes little interest in his uncle's arranged marriage. Unhappy at his own engagement party, Willi finds a pretext for him and his pals to leave, and they go to a classy nightclub. There, the gentlemanly Willi saves the lovely, though naive, Laura Taub from the unwanted affections of Herr Schnabel, and she thanks him for the deed. When Willi offers to escort Laura home, she stubbornly refuses him but finally agrees to share a carriage ride with him. The next day, Willi visits the young girl at Herr Hoffman's, where she gives Hoffman's son August piano lessons. The officer quickly and cleverly manages to secure Herr Hoffman's permission to take Laura out by telling him that he is her cousin and that it is Laura's birthday. Laura is furious at Willi for forcing her out, but goes with him to a wine garden nevertheless. There, Laura gets drunk with Willi and she begins to like him. When Willi leaves Laura 100 guilders as a gift, Laura thinks the money is the kind of payment one gives to cheap women and is so offended that she decides to leave Willi for Herr Schnabel. Laura soon loses her innocence, and Willi is surprised to find her gambling at a local casino. Later, Willi is visited by his old friend Otto, a married man who is expecting a child and is heavily in debt. Otto asks Willi to loan him 2,000 guilders, and the noble officer agrees to find the money for him. At first try, Willi only manages to raise 300 guilders from his friends, but later he wins enough for Otto, plus a little extra, by betting the sum at a casino. In order to win back Laura, who has told Willi that she would only love him if he were as rich as Herr Schnabel, the officer uses his extra winnings to bet against Schnabel at the casino's card table. Willi's luck runs dry, however, and he ends up owing Schnabel 14,000 guilders, which Schnabel expects by noon the following day. Disregarding his financial failings, Laura returns to Willi prepared to rekindle their romance, and exacts a subtle revenge by presenting Willi with the same monetary gift he gave her earlier. Still desperate for money to settle his debt to Schnabel, Willi turns to his rich uncle for help, but General von Hartz will only give him the money on the condition that he marry a girl of his own class. Willi refuses the terms of the offer and his situation seems bleak until his uncle has a change of heart and loans him the money. After informing his uncle that he is resigning from the guard so that he can marry whomever he pleases, Willi once again uses his wit to get the Hoffmans' permission to take Laura out, and they kiss.