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A disastrous performance in an ingenue role convinces actress Karen Stone that it is time to give up her fading career and vacation in Italy. En route, her wealthy, ailing, husband suffers a fatal stroke. In Rome, after admitting to her journalist friend, Meg, that she is restless, Karen is introduced to handsome gigolo Paolo di Leo by Countess Magda Terribili-Gonzales, a cynical procuress. Karen is unable to resist his charm, and in time they become lovers. The countess, however, is dissatisfied with Karen's insistence upon giving Paolo expensive gifts rather than money, and she introduces him to Barbara Bingham, a rich young Hollywood star. The younger woman so arouses Karen's jealousy that she loses all restraint and creates an ugly scene; Paolo, however, defiantly rejects her with the taunting accusation that her pursuit of him has made her the laughing stock of Rome. When she learns later that Paolo and Barbara are having an affair, Karen returns to her apartment and stares down at a young man who has silently followed her ever since her arrival in Rome; she walks to the balcony, wraps the keys to her apartment in a handkerchief, and throws them to the waiting stranger.