powered by AFI
Newly-retired Gen. Leo Fitzjohn lives in a turn-of-the-century English manor house with his wife, Emily, a nagging, whining woman whose supposed inability to walk is merely a pathetic way of keeping her husband from leaving her. Aside from pinching giggling housemaids, the general's only real pleasure in life is his love for Ghislaine, a Frenchwoman with whom he fell in love 17 years earlier, while dancing the waltz of the toreadors. Although they have never consummated their love, Ghislaine has remained faithful to the general through all the intervening years. One day she arrives unexpected at the manor house, produces two passionate love letters Emily has written to her physician, Dr. Grogan, and insists that the general is now free to elope with her. Before he can do so, however, Emily vanishes from the manor house, apparently bent on suicide. The general races after her, and Ghislaine retaliates by attempting her own suicide in a nearby pond and allowing the general's aide, Robert, to rescue her. Following a disastrously unromantic tryst with Ghislaine at the local inn, the general goes to Emily and demands that she grant him a divorce. She violently rebukes him, boasts of her own infidelities, and taunts him with the knowledge that, like her furniture and jewels, he belongs to her. Returning to Ghislaine, the general discovers that Robert has accomplished in 2 days what he himself has failed to do. Outraged, he orders the young man court-martialed but then halts the proceedings by disclosing that Robert is his illegitimate son. Later, after Robert and Ghislaine have married, he reacts to Emily's whines by deciding he should shoot himself. But a new housemaid suddenly appears, and the old general puts aside his pistol to embrace her.