Society-girl thrill seeker Lydia causes the death of motorcycle policeman and is prosecuted by her fiancé Daniel who describes in lurid detail the downfall of Rome. While she's in prison she reforms and Daniel becomes a wasted alcoholic.



(adaptation), (novel)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel J. O'Bannon
Evans - Lydia's Maid
John Miltern ...
Gov. Stephan Albee
Judge Homans
Mrs. Drummond
Edythe Chapman ...
Adeline Bennett
Drummond - Policeman
Dorothy Cumming ...
Eleanor Bellington
Casson Ferguson ...
Bobby Dorest
Michael D. Moore ...
Dicky Evans (as Mickey Moore)
James Neill ...
Sylvia Ashton ...
Prison Matron
Mabel Van Buren ...


Lydia Thorne, a wealthy girl who loves speed and thrills, is unsympathetic when Evans, her maid, is jailed for stealing her jewels. District Attorney Daniel O'Bannon visits Lydia to make her see the error of her own ways, but instead views a scene of Lydia and her friends that reminds him of a Roman orgy. O'Bannon feels it is his duty, therefore, to send Lydia to jail for her own good when her automobile driving causes the death of a motorcycle policeman. Lydia is resentful, and her rebuff of O'Bannon, who has come to love her, causes him such remorse that he turns to drink and dissipation. Meanwhile, Lydia reforms, realizes she loves O'Bannon, and resolves to do charitable work. She and Evans open a soup kitchen after their release, and a chance meeting with O'Bannon starts him on the road to recovery. With Lydia's encouragement he becomes himself again, runs for governor, but withdraws his candidacy to marry Lydia when he sees that her record would be a liability to him in politics. Written by Pamela Short

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For the rich and poor, the beautiful and plain-there's only one law! She has broken it and must pay! See more »






Release Date:

24 September 1922 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asszony, aki megbűnhődött  »

Box Office


$385,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sometimes sighted by historians and film critics as one of Cecil B. DeMille's worst films. Robert S. Birchard attributes a bout of debilitating rheumatic fever that DeMille was hit with while on a trip to Europe right before the film went into production. See more »


Lydia's Chaperon: Make Dan keep an eye on her, Eleanor. If she will show up for anybody, she will for him - but as her chaperon, I won't stay and be party to such goings on!
See more »


Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

Drunkenness and speeding can lead to orgies???
31 August 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Well, that really wasn't what DeMille was trying to say, but he certainly liked to insert these orgy scenes whenever possible.

Leatrice Joy plays Lydia, a reckless playgirl, and Thomas Meighan plays O'Bannon, a principled district attorney. Lois Wilson adds support as Joy's maid, Evans, who steals Lydia's ring to pay for her son's medical bills. O'Bannon, who is in love with Lydia, prosecutes Evans, although Lydia promises to appear in court on her behalf. Instead, Lydia forgets all about her maid languishing in jail and awaiting trial, gets drunk, and has a hangover the day of Evans' trial. Evans is sent to prison. As Lydia is roaring down the street in her car (over 60 mph!!!), a habit of hers, a motorcycle cop pursues her (there is a subplot here, but not worth mentioning). Anyhow, the cop smacks into her car, and Lydia is charged with manslaughter. O'Bannon, thoroughly angry at Lydia by now, prosecutes her, and all of Lydia's legal tricks do not provide an escape from a prison sentence. Now Evans runs into Lydia in prison and Lydia continues to try and order Evans about like a maid! Evans has an appropriate reaction. But soon, Evans sees "the light", and so does Lydia. O'Bannon, distraught over sending his true love to jail, starts hitting the bottle. Will DeMille go for a happy ending? The acting is pretty good, and certainly less hammy than you would see in a typical DeMille flick.

Writer Jeanie Macpherson got onto a racetrack with a professional race car driver to experience what it would be like to drive at high speed (they hit over 100 mph), but it was Leatrice Joy who was stuck actually driving the car with the safety of the cameramen depending on her driving skills.

There is one weird aspect of this film, and that is the Roman orgy scene. This "flashback" occurs while O'Bannon is summing up his case against Joy. The scene is complete with tigers, gladiators, people prancing around in weird outfits, and, if my eyes did not deceive me, two women making out. Later, there is another "flashback," with Meighan in some weird barbarian garb dragging Joy up some steps with a whip around her hands. Apparently this was DeMille's way of saying the country was going to hell in a hand cart.

De Mille had gotten in trouble with what little film censorship existed in his earliest films for showing sexy drunken scenes, so he changed his formula to show the sexy drunken orgy scenes as some kind of moral comparison with a Biblical lesson and got away with it. At least until the actual production code came into force in 1934.

This film was remade as a talking film in 1930 with Claudette Colbert as Lydia with basically the same plot, but with no orgies this time. That wasn't really director George Abbott's cup of tea.

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