Once a Lady
Cast & Crew
Anna Keremazoff, a Russian living in Paris, leaves her beloved city and her bohemian lifestyle to marry Briton Jimmy Fenwick after she becomes pregnant by him. When the couple arrives at the Fenwick estate in Kent, Anna candidly tells Jimmy's snobbish family she is pregnant. Shocked by Anna's lack of decorum, Jimmy's priggish aunt and mother begin a slow campaign against her free spirit. Six years later, Jimmy returns from the war as a candidate for Parliament and finds Anna increasingly discontented, but is unsympathetic to her complaints. Anna's only companion has been her daughter Faith, whom the Fenwicks have tried to control. When Bennett Cloud, an old lover of Anna from Paris, visits for Jimmy's campaign speech and finds Anna denuded of her spirited personality, he invites her for an afternoon of dark cafes and vodka. She returns home late and overhears the Fenwicks' plan to send her away until the election is over. When Anna exposes the scheme and refuses to be manipulated, Jimmy promises to spend a few days with her in Paris, then abandons her on the train, calling her a hindrance to his career. Heartbroken, Anna agrees to go away with Bennett, who happens to be on the train and is still in love with her. Later, the train is wrecked and all assume Anna is dead. After telling Bennett she does not love him, Anna returns home for the sake of Faith, and Jimmy forces her to confess she has been with a man. Despite Anna's promises to "be good," Jimmy insists on divorcing her and pretending she is dead. Anna says goodbye to Faith and goes to Paris. Years later, in 1931, Anna, now a wealthy blonde prostitute, reads about the fifth anniversary of her husband's marriage to British aristocrat Lady Ellen in the papers. Faith, a tennis pro, gives the appearance of happiness to the press, but is miserable at home. When her father refuses to let her marry Allen Corinth, an architectural student, Faith runs away with him to Paris. There, the couple attends a party with Anna and her American lover, Harry Cosden, who knows Allen. Aware that she cannot marry Allen without money, Faith gets drunk when he refuses to take her home with him and allows a gigolo to accost her. Anna rescues Faith, who is oblivious to her mother's identity, warns her against her dangerous nature and takes her home. Anna then meets with Jimmy and, calling into question the legality of divorcing a dead spouse, threatens to expose his bigamy unless he allows Faith to marry and provides her with an income. In Paris, Faith thanks Anna for setting her straight and says goodbye, without ever learning that Anna is her mother.
Theodor Von Eltz
Das zweite Leben was the basis for the 1928 Paramount film Three Sinners, which was directed by Rowland V. Lee and starred Pola Negri, Warner Baxter and Paul Lukas (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5671).