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In London, in 1946, after Maddalena Anna Paradine is arrested for poisoning her blind husband, Colonel Richard Paradine, the family solicitor, Sir Simon Flaquer, arranges for her to be defended by Tony Keane, whose wife Gay thinks that Mrs. Paradine is probably innocent. When Simon and Tony visit Mrs. Paradine in Holloway prison, she tells them that she is concerned that people will think that she married a helpless blind man so that she could kill him for his money. However, Tony impresses upon her to believe that she had made a considerable sacrifice in marrying Richard. Later, Tony and Gay attend a dinner party at the home of the presiding judge in the Paradine case, Lord Thomas Horfield, and the judge offends Gay with his lecherous behavior. Tony begins preparing his defense, and Mrs. Paradine reluctantly admits that she had been involved with several men before her marriage, but says that her husband knew all about her past. When Tony and Flaquer discuss whether to present the argument that Richard committed suicide, possibly assisted by his valet, André Latour, Flaquer is unimpressed by Tony's reasoning and feels that their client may well be guilty. Tony, however, passionately defends her and is overheard by Gay. Later, when Tony asks Mrs. Paradine about Latour, she protects him as if he might be her lover. Gay confronts Tony with her suspicions that he is becoming infatuated with Mrs. Paradine, but after he offers to give up the case and take her to Switzerland, she confidently insists that he continue. Tony decides to do some investigating at the Paradine country home, Hindley Hall, in Cumberland and takes a room at a local hotel. Latour greets him at the house and allows him to wander around, accompanied by the housekeeper. That evening Latour visits Tony to tell him that he was not involved with Mrs. Paradine and describes her as an evil woman. Disturbed by his words, Tony asks Latour to leave. Back in London, when Tony tells Mrs. Paradine of Latour's accusation and suggests that they were lovers, she asks Tony to remove himself from the case, but, after he apologizes, agrees that he can continue. After Sir Simon's daughter Judy, who is Gay's best friend, asks her about the rumors regarding Tony being in love with Mrs. Paradine, Gay tells Tony that she does not want to lose him and that she wants Mrs. Paradine to be found innocent for, if she were executed, Tony would imagine her as a great lost love. When the trial starts at the Old Bailey court, the Crown's prosecutor, Sir Joseph Farrell, portrays Richard as a true gentleman and establishes that Latour had been his devoted manservant before and during the war, and had won a medal for gallantry. After stating that the colonel was the best man he ever knew, Latour testifies that Mrs. Paradine had lied to the colonel that he, Latour, intended to leave, causing the colonel to become very upset with him. Although Tony proves that Latour had put the colonel's old dog to death with poison, Latour denies any involvement in his employer's death. During a recess Mrs. Paradine tells Tony that she will not forgive him for accusing Latour of murder and states that she wishes to be found innocent, but not at the cost of Latour being destroyed. When Tony admits to having romantic feelings for her, she asserts that their relationship is only one of client and lawyer. After the prosecution establishes that Latour and Mrs. Paradine had, in fact, engaged in an adulterous relationship, Tony puts her in the witness box. She states that she asked her husband to find another position for Latour, as he had been taking liberties with her and had tried to make love to her. When Mrs. Paradine then implicates herself in her husband's death, Tony requests a recess until the next morning. That evening, Judy tells Tony that she feels that Mrs. Paradine will be found guilty and that his career will be over. The next day, as the prosecutor interrogates Mrs. Paradine, word comes that Latour has committed suicide, whereupon a devastated Mrs. Paradine admits that she killed her husband as she had wanted to go away with Latour, insisting that he was not involved in the murder but had guessed that she was responsible. Mrs. Paradine angrily denounces Tony from the the witness stand, accusing him of causing Latour's death. Tony humbly confesses to errors of judgment he has made in conducting her defense and, after imploring the jury not to hold his "incompetence" against Mrs. Paradine, asks to be excused from the case. Tony then returns to the forgiving Gay, while Mrs. Paradine faces execution by hanging.