powered by AFI
In London, in the autumn of 1946, British Major General Ralph Deniston is sitting at his club when he receives a pair of gold earrings in the mail. Later, on an airplane en route to Paris, Ralph is seated next to news correspondent Quentin Reynolds who, like other members of Ralph's club, has been curious about his pierced ears and changed personality since the war. Sensing Reynold's curiosity, Ralph relates how his ears came to be pierced: In 1939, before the war, stuffy British colonel Ralph and his young partner, Byrd, are sent to Germany to procure the secret formula for a poisonous gas from its inventor, German scientist Professor Otto Krosigk, who is friendly with the British. Ralph and Byrd are caught by Nazi soldiers and held captive in a farmhouse. During a radio address by Adolf Hitler, Ralph and Byrd escape and separate, with plans to meet in Freiburg, where Krosigk lives. While making his way through the Black Forest, Ralph is befriended by a gypsy named Lydia, who transforms him into a gypsy for his protection. Ralph resists her attempts to make a true gypsy of him, but cooperates out of self-preservation. Eventually, they arrive at the camp of Lydia's clan, near Freiburg. There, Ralph fights Zoltan, the gypsy king and Lydia's ex-lover, in order to win her. After defeating Zoltan, Ralph is welcomed into the clan, and befriended by Zoltan. Still disquised as a gypsy, Ralph meets up with Byrd, and, trying to avert suspicion, pretends to read his fortune, but is stunned when he foresees Byrd's death. When Byrd is gunned down by Nazi soldiers, Ralph shoots his killers, and the gypsies bury Byrd in the forest. To ensure his safety, Lydia and Zoltan insist on accompanying Ralph to a Nazi party gathering at Krosigk's house, where they read fortunes to amuse the guests. By the time they arrive and Ralph convinces Krosigk of his identity, however, the Nazis have forbidden anyone to leave, except the gypsies, whom they throw out. As they leave, Krosigk surreptitiously hands Ralph the formula on a note that is meant as payment for having had his fortune told. Ralph and Lydia arrive safely at the French border and swear their love. After returning Lydia's earrings, Ralph promises to meet her at the same spot after the war, which she waits out in Switzerland. After Ralph finishes his story, the plane lands, and Ralph returns to the wooded spot where he and Lydia said goodbye and dons the earrings before embracing her.