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Mississippi Mermaid

Mississippi Mermaid(1970)

Remind Me

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Louis Mahé, a millionaire tobacco plantation owner on the island of Réunion, has become engaged through the personals columns of a French newspaper to Julie Roussel and awaits her arrival on the steamer Mississippi. He is greeted by a young woman who surprises him by her beauty and explains that she sent her sister's photo to assure the sincerity of his intentions. They quickly marry, and Louis's adoration of his new bride makes him overlook incongruities with Julie's description of herself in her letters. One day, Louis's bride absconds after emptying his bank accounts. Louis meets Julie's sister, Berthe Roussel, who informs him that the woman he married was not Julie; together they hire a private detective, Comolli, to track down the impostor and find Berthe's sister. En route by plane to Nice, Louis is suddenly stricken ill. Recuperating in a sanitarium, he sees Julie on television, dancing at a nightclub in Antibes. He travels there and hides in her hotel room, intent on killing her. She offers no resistance, but, explaining that her name is Marion, she tells him of her past, including years spent in prison, and of her association with a heartless gangster, Richard. Richard was with her on the Mississippi when they met Julie Roussel and learned of her forthcoming marriage. He had fabricated a plot to kill Julie and send Marion in her place to rob Louis; and afterwards Richard had forced her to go through with the robbery. Louis quickly forgives Marion, and they decide to live together in France on profits from the plantation. In Aix-en-Provence their happiness is interrupted by Comolli, who has discovered Julie's murder. After trying in vain to bribe the detective to drop the case, Louis shoots him and buries him in the wine cellar of their house. He flees with Marion to Lyons, but she grows increasingly dissatisfied with their fugitive existence and longs to enjoy a life of luxury in Paris. To obtain funds, Louis returns briefly to Réunion and sells his share in the plantation, but upon his return he finds the police on their trail. They are again forced to flee, leaving behind the money; penniless, they hide out in a cabin in the French Alps, but Marion is restless and irritable. Louis becomes increasingly ill, and one day he becomes aware that Marion has been administering quantities of rat poison in his coffee. Near collapse, he makes an attempt to escape, but Marion brings him back to the cabin. He reveals his knowledge of her plan, and, urging her to fill his coffee glass, he affirms his acceptance of his fate, his lack of regrets, and his overwhelming love for her. Struck with shame, Marion knocks the glass from Louis's hand and vows to make amends. As he regains his strength, they flee the hut together into the snow.