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American brain surgeon Larry Forbes travels to a small French village in order to accompany his fiancée, Madeline Renault, back to New York for their wedding. Larry is forced to spend the night at an inn, however, when a storm washes out the bridge to the Renault estate. Madeline's uncle, renowned brain specialist Dr. Renault, sends his handyman, Mr. Noel, to meet Larry, and Larry is intrigued by the shy, intense and odd-looking Noel, who is from Java. Also at the inn are Rogell, an ex-convict who is now Renault's gardener, and Austin, a drunken American who infuriates Noel with his insinuations about Larry's upcoming marriage to Madeline, whom Noel worships. When Larry goes to retire for the evening, he finds Austin passed out in his room and decides to sleep in Austin's room. Larry is awakened by a scream, and upon investigating, discovers that Austin's neck has been broken. Police Inspector Duval suspects that Larry was the intended victim and Rogell is the perpetrator, but he also ponders the possibility that Noel killed Austin because of his remarks about Madeline. Duval releases them in the meantime, and Noel drives Larry to the Renault estate. Soon after, Madeline's new dog is killed, and Renault accuses Noel of the crime. Renault brutally beats Noel and locks him in a cage, then forbids him to go with Madeline to the next day's Bastille Day celebration in the village. After everyone leaves for the celebration, Noel breaks out of his cage and joins Madeline, who praises him when he wins a strength contest. Meanwhile, Rogell admits to Henri, the Renaults' butler, that he murdered Austin because he had mistaken him for Larry, whom he wanted to rob, and also killed the dog, whose barking alarmed him. As Rogell and Henri plot to kidnap Madeline for ransom money from Larry, Noel's dancing is laughed at by Louis the waiter and Marcel, the town's barber. Furious about being belittled in front of Madeline, Noel kills his two tormenters, after which Larry takes Madeline back to the estate, then searches Renault's laboratory. There he finds Renault's notebooks detailing his experiments in transforming an ape into a human being through surgery. Larry is horrified by what Renault has done to Noel, a surgically altered ape who is the final product of this experiment. When Larry confronts Renault, the doctor threatens to shoot him rather than let him reveal the secret. Noel attacks and kills Renault before he can shoot Larry, however, then rushes outside after hearing Madeline scream. Noel follows Rogell, who has kidnapped Madeline, to an old mill. Larry and Duval follow as well, and watch as Noel struggles with Rogell and throws him off the building's roof to his death. Noel, who has been fatally wounded during the struggle, makes sure that Madeline is safe and before dying, assures her that everything is all right.