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In the Montmarte district of Paris, womanizing attorney François Durnais escorts his old friend, Chief Judge Paul Barriere, to the Bal du Paradis cabaret to see a performance of the can-can. The dance, which has been deemed lewd and lascivious by the court, has been outlawed, and consequently, the police raid the club and, although François and Paul avoid arrest, Simone Pistache, François' sweetheart and the cabaret's proprietor, is hauled before the court to face Paul and his straight-laced young colleague, Judge Philippe Forrestier. Although Paul is eager to dismiss the case, Philippe is intent on prosecuting it, but when the police, who have been bribed by Simone, profess a lack of evidence, Simone is released. That night, Philippe, determined to prove Simone guilty, comes to the club posing as a rich roué. When Simone boasts that she has compiled a list of police bribes, Philippe bets her that she is lying. Just as Simone is about to turn the list over to Philippe, Claudine, one of the dancers, recognizes him as a judge and warns Simone. Philippe then sternly advises Simone to comply with the law, but unable to resist her charms, he passionately embraces her. When Philippe promises never to harm her, Simone takes him at his word and stages a performance of the can-can. Philippe's photographers are waiting in the audience to photograph the event, and as a result, Simone is arrested once again. When François, acting as Simone's attorney, ascertains that Philippe kissed Simone in her bedroom, he threatens to blackmail the judge unless he drops the charges. The threat proves unnecessary, however, when Philippe summons Simone to his chambers and, after apologizing for misleading her, drops the complaint. When Simone kisses him in gratitude, Philippe, smitten, invites her to dinner. After she protests that she has a prior engagement, Philippe proclaims his love and proposes to her. Afterward, Simone, stunned, invites François to her boudoir and asks him to marry her. When he refuses, she angrily informs him that she plans to marry Philippe. Certain that marriage to a showgirl would ruin Philippe's career, Paul conspires with François to prevent the union. Paul decides to host an engagement party aboard a luxurious yacht, and invites all of Paris society. Feeling unworthy and out of place, Simone is tricked by François into getting drunk and performing a ribald song that insults the distinguished guests. Humiliated, Simone runs into a cabin and Philippe follows to console her. After he leaves, however, Simone jumps overboard and swims to shore. The next day, Philippe worries about Simone until André, the headwaiter at the cabaret, delivers a letter from her, stating that their marriage would be a mistake. Next, Simone goes to François' office and asks for a loan to stage the Four Arts Ball, insisting that he accept the deed to her club as collateral. Arriving at the ball drunk, Philippe mimics François' flippant manner, thus endearing himself to Simone. When Philippe slams the window that no other man has been able to close, Simone reconsiders his proposal. After informing François that he is now the club's proprietor due to the deed he signed, Simone calls for a performance of the banned can-can, thus precipitating François' arrest. At the trial however, Simone relents and testifies that she has lost the deed, thus assuring François' acquittal. Paul then suggests adjourning court to observe can-can to determine if it is truly lewd, and when the crowd breaks into exuberant applause, the dance is vindiated. Afterward, the police pretend to arrest Simone and throw her into a police wagon with François, who then finally proposes to her.