In 1909, the beautiful but amoral British belle Ivy Lexton meets older, rich Miles Rushworth; undeterred by the prior claims of her husband Jervis and lover Roger, she goes after Miles and has no trouble fascinating him, but oddly enough he has compunctions about making love to other men's wives. The means that Ivy reluctantly adopts to resolve the problem of too many men promise disaster for all concerned.
An Edwardian belle meets a rich bachelor, but what to do about her husband and her lover?
- In 1909 a beautiful but rather superficial young woman (Joan Fontaine) with a handsome but relatively poor husband (Richard Ney) is having an affair with a better looking doctor (Patrick Knowles). She meets an older, less attractive but much wealthier bachelor with a Rolls-Royce (Herbert Marshall) and immediately charms him into giving her husband a job. Then her husband dies under suspicious circumstances.
In England at the turn of the century, Ivy Lexton, a self-centered, seductive young woman, consults a fortune-teller, who portends that Ivy will come into an abundance of money as soon as she rids herself of one man and another enters her life. Unspoken by the fortune-teller is the grisly misfortune that will also befall Ivy. Ivy believes that the prediction is coming true when she meets Miles Rushworth, an enormously wealthy bachelor, and convinces him to give her husband Jervis a position in his firm. In the five years that Ivy and Jervis have been married, Ivy has squandered Jervis' wealth, forcing them to live in the modest circumstances so despised by Ivy. Later, at a lavish dance, Ivy is approached by Dr. Roger Gretorex, her secret lover. When Ivy tries to fulfill the prophesy by breaking off her affair with Roger, Roger vows to never give her up. The next morning, Miles invites Ivy and Jervis on a month-long cruise aboard his yacht. Ivy is relieved when Bella Crail, Miles's alleged fiancée, leaves the boat mid-voyage, thus allowing Ivy to work her charms on the unsuspecting millionaire Entranced by Ivy, Miles follows her ashore one day and buys her an extravagant handbag with the cameo clasp that she admires. Later, during a storm, Miles invites Ivy to his cabin for dinner. When lightning knocks out the electricity, Miles arduously embraces Ivy and then apologizes for his indiscretion and leaves. Upon returning home, the Lextons settle into their luxurious new quarters and Jervis begins his new job. After Miles leaves on a business trip to South Africa, Roger phones Ivy, who tries to avoid him until he demands an audience with her in one hour. Before leaving for Roger's house, Ivy argues with Jervis about her extravagance. Feigning tearful remorse, Ivy suggests a divorce, but Jervis refuses her offer. Ivy then goes to see Roger at his office. When Roger is called away to tend a patient, Ivy spots a bottle of poison on the table. Realizing that Jervis will never free her, Ivy pours a spoonful of the powder into her purse. At home, Ivy gradually administers the poison to Jervis by slipping it in his brandy. When Ivy continues to ignore Roger's constant calls, he goes to the Lexton house and discovers that Ivy has gone out for the evening and Jervis is sick in bed. As Roger listens to Jervis' symptoms and offers him a glass of water, Jervis' physician, Dr. Lancaster, arrives and objects to Roger's interference in his case. Upon returning home late that night, Ivy is informed by Dr. Berwick, Lancaster's colleague, that Jervis is dead. To determine the cause of death, Berwick orders a postmortem. Early the next morning, Berwick arrives with Inspector Orpington of Scotland Yard to conduct an investigation into Jervis' death. When Emily Green, the Lextons' maid, mentions that Roger visited Jervis on the evening of his death, Berwick concludes that Roger may be responsible for Jervis' demise. Informed by Orpington that her husband was poisoned, Ivy feigns aggrieved widowhood and casts suspicion of Roger by implying that he was jealous of Jervis. Once Orpington departs, Ivy dumps the poison from her purse and then hurries to Roger's office to beg him to protect her by lying that she has never visited his house. Led to believe by Ivy that Jervis took his own life, Roger extracts a promise from his housekeeper, Martha Huntley, never to reveal that Ivy has visited him. Soon after, Orpington arrives and to shield Ivy, Roger lies about his relationship with her. Later, Roger is arrested on suspicion of murder. On the day of the arrest, Miles cables Ivy his condolences and promises to hurry to her side. After Roger refuses to defend himself, Ivy takes the witness stand and testifies that Roger was in love with her and wanted to marry her. To protect Ivy from further humiliation, Roger pleads guilty and is sentenced to hang. Suspicious of Ivy's eagerness to implicate Roger in the murder, Orpington decides to continue his investigation. On the eve of Roger's execution, his mother, Mrs. Gretorex, visits Ivy, and finding her preparing to leave for the country, chastises her for failing to defend Roger. Mrs. Gretorex then repairs to Roger's house and soon after, Orpington appears and declares that he believes that Roger is shielding Ivy, the true killer. After Orpington tricks Martha into revealing that Ivy had access to the poison at Roger's office, she recalls that Ivy was carrying her cameo purse that day. Proceeding to Ivy's flat to search for the purse, Orpington finds a cable from Miles, notifying her that he will be arriving by ship the next day. After locating the handbag in the back of a grandfather clock, Orpington discovers poison residue embedded in a secret pocket and then goes to meet Miles at the docks. Later that night, Roger's lawyer phones Ivy to inform her that Roger has been released because of new evidence. Bolting home to London, Ivy finds Miles waiting for her at the apartment. Miles, who has been apprised of Ivy's heinous deeds, confirms her guilt and then walks out on her. Agitated, Ivy flees into the hallway, and wrongly believing that the elevator is waiting for her, plunges down the empty shaft to her death.- Taken from TCM