Cast & Crew
In 1860, Léa Marriotte, a French Creole maid in the home of spoiled New Orleans socialite Cynthia Winthrop, smashes a vase in response to her mistress' cruel reference to the young woman's mother, who was hanged some years earlier. Jesebel, Léa's aunt and constant companion, fuels the girl's rage by reminding her that it is the Marriottes who possess the good blood, while families like the Winthrops now enjoy power purely because of their wealth. In the Winthrops' absence, Léa and Jesebel throw a wild party for their Creole friends, but the revelry is interrupted by George Brissac, who, although once Léa's lover, is engaged to marry Cynthia. Still attracted to Léa, George kisses her, whereupon Phillipe, the Winthrops' footman, who has been courting Léa, attacks his wealthy rival in a jealous rage. Horrified, Léa strikes Phillipe with a cane until he is dead. George assures Léa that all will be well, but when he soon afterward arrives at the Winthrop home with Constable Gilpin, he declares that Léa murdered the footman. Léa is arrested, but later, George's uncle, Henri Brissac, who runs a profitable mercantile business once owned by the Fabian family, threatens that if his brainless nephew causes a scandal, he will be disowned. On that same night, Michael Fabian, who has captained a ship since his family lost their business to the Brissacs, arrives and learns about the arrest. After the captain promises to ship a supply of Emil's gunpowder to the North, Emil, an employee of the Brissacs, reveals to Fabian what really happened. During Léa's trial, Fabian tells the judge, another Brissac, that he will implicate the family in the crime unless she is released. Fabian then purchases the Pierrot tavern for Léa, using money he blackmailed from George. Although attracted to Fabian, Léa rejects his attentions and even steals his watch, and while Fabian is away, she lures George to "Chez Léa" on the eve before his marriage to Cynthia. Léa persuades George to take her to his room, and when Uncle Henri bursts in and discovers her there, she assumes she now has her revenge. George, however, strangles his uncle to death, a development that allows Léa to attain her fondest wish. She and George bury the body, after which she threatens to have George arrested unless he agrees to marry her. The two are wed, and Léa becomes mistress of the elegant Brissac mansion, but George's hatred, her continued rejection by New Orleans society, and Fabian's anger bring her nothing but unhappiness. Léa visits Fabian on his ship, and although he at first threatens to throw her over the side, he soon kisses her passionately. George, meanwhile, finds Fabian's gold watch in Léa's room. At George's prompting, Constable Gilpin searches the grounds for signs of the missing uncle, and when the grave is opened, Fabian's watch is found by the body. Fabian is arrested, but because George fears the captain will be released, he hires some local cutthroats to break into the jail and lynch his enemy. Remembering that there is an old tunnel under the jail, Léa sends Jesebel to free her lover while she makes her way to Fabian's ship. Fabian is released just as the mob breaks down the door, but Jesebel is shot and killed. The mob pursues Fabian to the ship, and George convinces them to throw their torches at the captain's explosive cargo. Fabian and George fight, and George is drowned. Just then Léa runs toward the ship shouting Fabian's name, but the gunpowder explodes, and she dies in his arms.
R. E. Marshall
Herbert J. Yates
The working titles of this film were The Bargain and New Orleans Adventure. It was released in France as La Taverne de N.O. In the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the production company is listed variously as Marshall Productions and Flynn-Marshall Productions as well as Silver Films Productions. According to a Variety news item, the picture was filmed in France by an independent company formed by Errol Flynn and William Marshall, who at the time was married to the film's star, Micheline Prelle. The news item notes that Flynn, who had never before written a screenplay, provided some of the financing, and the French company Corona Pictures put up $350,000 on the basis of the Republic distribution deal. Marshall, who was directing for the first time, reportedly violated French government regulations by starting the film without a permit and by ignoring the rule that states every English language film produced in France must also be made in a French language version. According to the Variety item, Warner Bros. considered Flynn's appearance in this film as a breach of contract.
Materials contained in the MPAA/PCA files add that in May 1950, Marshall entered into negotiations with Twentieth-Century Fox to distribute the picture. An August 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Robert Florey was initially signed to direct the film. Florey's name is listed as director in the production charts until September 22, 1950. Modern sources add that Marshall, who had no previous experience directing, hired Florey initially as a co-director and then as the full director of a separate French version. Marshall's lack of experience led him to keep Florey on as an uncredited directorial consultant. Florey was on the set every day during production, on location at the Villefrance harbor in Nice and at La Victorine, Billancourt and Boulogne studios. This was the last feature-length production on which Florey worked. According to a Los Angeles Times news item, Princess Irene Ghika refused an offer to play the role of "Cynthia Winthrop." According to a 1955 unidentified source contained in the AMPAS Library production files, Flynn and Marshall were sued by Charles Gross, Jr., who claimed that he was hired in June 1950 to adapt the story to the screen. The outcome of that suit is unknown.