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As You Desire Me

As You Desire Me(1932)

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Zara, a sultry singer in a Budapest nightclub, is a cynical alcoholic. She lives with novelist Karl Salter, who loves her, and tolerates her life of drinking and picking up men. When a man named Tony comes for her and calls her "Maria," Karl is told that Tony has been looking for her for ten years to take her back to his best friend, Count Bruno Varelli. Tony says that she is Maria, Bruno's wife, who had disappeared ten years before during World War I, but Zara denies that she is Maria and orders Tony out. She soon relents, however, and goes with him, despite the fact that Karl threatens her and shoots her in the arm. At the Varelli estate, when Bruno receives word that his long-presumed dead wife is returning, he is ecstatic, but when Zara arrives, she is like a stranger and doesn't recognize him or their devoted family servants. She claims that she is not really Maria, but when he begs her to stay, she asks him to help her be the woman he desires--Maria as she appeared when Tony painted her portrait many years before. Meanwhile, Karl goes to visit Ines Montari, Maria's sister, seeking her help in exposing Zara as an imposter. As Zara and Bruno get to know each other, she falls in love with him and wants to devote her life to him. Just as she seems to be grasping the happiness that has eluded her for so long, however, Karl comes to the estate to see her. He tells her that one week from that day, Maria was to be declared legally dead and that her property would have gone to her sister Ines instead of Bruno. When Zara realizes that he is telling the truth, she thinks that Bruno has merely been playing a game for the property. Bruno protests, but Zara does not believe him. When Karl then says that the real Maria, who has been confined to a sanitarium since the war, is with him, they demand to see her. As the woman enters, she calls Ines and the maid Lena by name and, though veiled, she is accepted as Maria by most of the family. Bruno and Tony refuse to believe that the woman is Maria, however. Through questioning, the woman regains bits of her memory and they realize that she is not Maria, but one of the women who lived on the estate before the war. Finally, Bruno tells Zara that he loves her, no matter who she is or was. When he says that he has found his lost love in her, Zara realizes that they can be happy.