skip navigation
Once a Sinner

Once a Sinner(1931)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

Diana Barry prepares to leave her luxurious New York apartment to move to the country town of Sparta and marry inventor Tommy Mason. She refuses the offer of her ex-lover, Dick Kent, to help her financially. In Sparta, Diana tells Tommy of her affair with an older man, but he does not want to know the man's name. Diana is happy to forget her past until a year later, Tommy, who has been working on a device to transmit sound and pictures through a telephone apparatus, receives an invitation from an investment corporation for him and Diana to come to New York for three months at their expense while they consider financing his invention. Diana is upset about returning, but she agrees to go. In New York, James Brett, the corporation's broker, is sure about the invention and is trying to convince the president, who turns out to be Dick Kent. When Diana is introduced to Kent at a dinner-dance, both act as if they are just meeting, but Tommy is unnerved because many people in the club recognize her. Tommy suspects that Brett, who has the reputation of being quite a ladies' man, was her past lover. When he declares that he will not sell his invention if his suspicions are correct, Diana refuses to tell him about Kent. For the next three months, their life together is miserable as Tommy is beset with jealousy and Diana becomes fed up with his badgering. On her birthday, when Brett sends her flowers, she finally tells Tommy that Brett was not the man, and after declaring that her past belongs to only her, she leaves their apartment. When her friend, Kitty King, invites Diana to accompany her and her fiancé, Serge Ratoff, to Paris, she regretfully accepts. The following spring, when Diana loses her job as a model, Ratoff, who tells her that Kitty has left him, wines and dines her with the desire to make her his mistress. At a club, they meet Kent and his bride. Aware of Ratoff's reputation as one of the most notorious womanizers in Europe, Kent calls Tommy, who is working in London, to come to Paris immediately. In Paris, Kent admits his past liaison with Diana and implores him to try to save her. Although at first he is indignant that Kent financed the invention because of Diana, Tommy does search for her and finally locates one of Ratoff's clubs. Upstairs, Ratoff offers Diana a pearl necklace, which she refuses, but at his urging, she agrees to wear it for the evening. Tommy is not allowed into the club, until he is escorted in by Ratoff's former mistress. Diana sees the woman kiss Tommy after he gives her money to gamble, and Tommy sees the pearl necklace. She believes that he came there not because he loves her, but because, at Kent's suggestion, he was trying to "save" her. Disappointed, she accompanies Ratoff upstairs, and Tommy starts to leave in disgust, but after his escort confesses that she began to pick up men from the streets after Ratoff dumped her, Tommy pushes his way past Ratoff's bodyguards and interrupts him as he toasts, "to each moment as it comes." Tommy apologizes to Diana, and says he loves and needs her, and they reconcile.