Trouble in Paradise (1932) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

  • High class European thief Gaston Monescu meets his soul mate Lily, a pickpocket masquerading as a countess. The two join forces and come under the employ of Mme. Colet, the beautiful owner of the Colet perfume company. Gaston works as Mme. Colet's personal secretary under the alias Monsieur La Valle. Rumors start to fly as 'M. La Valle' steals Mme. Colet away from her other suitors. When the secret of his true identity catches up to him, Gaston is caught between the two beautiful women.

  • When Gaston Monescu meets Lily in the south of France it seems like a match made in heaven. He is a con artist and she an expert pickpocket. After trying to steal from each other they quickly realize their fortune is to be made by working together. They eventually arrive in Paris where Gaston, under an assumed name, gets a job as the very rich Mariette Colet's personal secretary. He is soon controlling her vast empire and by the time the police and others realize just who he is, Gaston has found out that her board of directors have been fiddling the books. He's also fallen in love with her.

  • Gaston Monescu, world-famous thief, and Lily Vautier love each other for their wicked (and clever) ways. Gaston manages to insinuate himself into the home, and the heart, of wealthy and beautiful Mariette Colet--risking his own heart and Lily's jealousy in the process.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Opens with a man lifting a trash can and moving it across the street. He dumps the contents on a small boat. Someone starts singing as the man goes on his way on the boat he dumped the trash in. Someone is buzzing a doorbell and we see a man running and climbing down a tree. A shadow on the wall. The women buzzing the door argue and buzz the door again. There is a man on the floor and he gets up slowly but falls back down.

    The camera pans across the houses and stops on the baron, Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall), smoking a cigarette. The waiter comes up from behind and shows him a map. They speak. They talk about how they would start a dinner between Romeo and Juliet. a quick glimpse of a woman on a boat. the baron talks about the moon and says he wants to see the moon in the champagne. He also says he doesn't want to see the waiter at all.

    A woman answering calls. An operator. She gets excited from a message and relays it to a man in an office. People are arguing and hollering. The woman, Lily the Countess (Miriam Hopkins), from the boat arrives at the Baron's dining room. She says a man almost saw her in the hall. She says she ran all the way up there to avoid him. Says she shouldn't have come but the Baron says she did come. That she is accepted there. He takes off her jacket and she goes to sit at a chair, and then moves to the window. She says if the Marquis sees her, he'll tell the other Marquis and the other Marquis will tell another Marquis. Gossip will reign. She sits in a chair and the Baron tells her to keep on complaining because it's beautiful. She thought he was American at first sight. She's not disappointed to know he is one of them. They kiss and the phone rings. He answers it and he gives the phone to the woman because it is the Duchess. She's invited to dinner at their palace. A shot of the Duchess telling her what to do tomorrow. The woman gives her compliments to the duke. She says the scandal is now on to the Baron.

    A room full of men arguing. A man asks Filiba (Edward Everett Horton) how much money he had. Filiba said he had exactly 20,000 lira. He cashed the check and put it in his wallet. The man goes back to argue with the other men. The man asks why Filiba let the man in. Filiba said he said to come in because it was a doctor that said he came to see about his tonsils. The other man argues with the police again. The president of the police wants to know if there's anything wrong with the tonsils. Filiba says no and said the culprit was a very charming fellow. They argue more and Filiba said he let the man check his tonsils. All he remembers is he said "Ah" and it was the last thing he remembered.

    The Baron asks about Filiba to the waiter. The waiter tells him about the incident and then leaves. The Baron talks with the Countess. She talks about how something has changed her. She confesses that the Baron is a crook and knows that he robbed the man in room 253, 5, 7 and 9. She asks for the salt and he gives it to her. The Baron confesses that he would have told her everything. He says the Countess is a thief. The wallet is in her possession. He says her embrace is so sweet. He locks the door and pockets the key. The blinds close and he takes the Countess in his arms and shakes her to get the wallet out. He puts the wallet in his pocket and they continue eating. He asks for the time and she gives him a watch that's slow but tried to sync the time. He says that he hopes he can keep her garter. They embrace and she wants to know who he is. He says he is Gaston Monescu. They embrace and kiss. They confess their love.

    The doors to 300/02 open and a Do Not Disturb sign is posted on the door.

    The man who dumped the contents of a trash can appears on his boat at night. Someone is singing in the background.

    A shot of radio waves coming from the Eiffel Tower.

    A man stands before a microphone with papers in his hand. He tells of news from Geneva about Monescu robbing a peace conference. He took everything except the peace. The police arrested him but he escaped in an inexplicable manner. A man starts to sing the Colet and Company song about perfumes and how they're the best perfumes available.

    A board meeting being held. A woman, Madame Colet (Kay Francis) is sitting by listening. A board member named Giron (C. Aubrey Smith) says that the first thing that Madame Colet's husband would do would be to cut salaries in times like these. Business bores her to distraction so she says they should leave the salaries just the way they are.

    At a jewelry shop, Madame Colet is helped by the clerk. He shows her a purse and she says it is too much. She asks about a 125,000 franc item. She'll take it.

    Colet speaks to Filiba about marriage being a beautiful mistake two people make together. But with Filiba, it would be a mistake.

    The Major (Charles Ruggles) is turned down by the Madame as well.

    Filiba and the Major are waiting for Madame Colet to come down. Filiba says he dislikes the major intensely. They might just as well make conversation. The Major only says "tonsils."

    Madame Colet sits in a balcony watching a play. Filiba leaves while the Major stays. She says both men are stupid. She wants both men to apologize to each other.

    Still at the theater, The Major tells off Filiba. He goes back to Madame Colet and tells her that Filiba has left.

    Still at the theater, Monescu is using binoculars to spy on Colet and the Major. He sees them arguing.

    The opera starts and we see the pages of the music turning on their own.

    Still at the theater, The Countess speaks to a man in a top hat, takes something from him and goes back in the room. Madame Colet comes out of the room and goes to the Major. Her bag is missing. The Major doesn't know where it is. They make a racket in there and go out to search for it. They search the ladies room and the Major quickly comes back out. The play ends and everyone is leaving.

    Still at the theater, Monescu comes out of an empty room and walks down the hall. Fade to black.

    The Major goes into jewelry shop and wants to look at some cuff-links. Filiba is there as well. They make small talk but the Major is annoyed.

    Zoom in on the Countess looking at a newspaper. She lowers it and looks at Monescu. They talk about the opera. They talk about a previous incident Monescu was involved in. He remembers everything about it and gives her a kiss. He tells her everything will be alright. Prosperity is just around the corner. She gets up and says for him to read the newspaper. They see the reward amount and he ponders what he would have gotten for selling it. She tells him to return the purse for the 20,000 francs.

    Madame Colet is shown bags by people looking to receive the reward. She takes a phone call and says it's not the purse. A Communist idealist says he hasn't found it and insults her about spending so much on a bag. Monescu walks in and shows her the bag. She tells her butler Jacques (Robert Greig) to tell everyone to leave because the bag has been found. She asks Monescu where he found it and he tells her about a statue of Venus. That is where he found it. She says she was nowhere near the niche. They introduce each other. He lies about his identity. He gives his name as Gaston LaValle. He takes out every item just to make sure it is hers. He says he read the love letter but to not accept the Major. They speak about different make up and lipstick. The Major arrives and Monescu tells the Major she should not be seen today. The Major mistakes Monescu for a doctor.

    Filiba arrives and the Major asks Jacques if the bag has been found, just to make a fool out of Filiba.

    Monescu leaves but not before Madame Colet says she's embarrassed to offer the reward. Monescu says he'll take the reward and she goes up to write the check. Monescu runs up the stairs and tells her that his name is Gaston and to make the check out to cash.

    Madame Colet looks around her desk for her checkbook. Monescu is looking at a painting. He disappears when she turns to look at him. He's standing in her secretary's room looking at her bed and a piece hanging on the wall. She discharged her secretary for being too happy. He asks if the secretary put the check book in her safe. She unlocks the safe to check it, and Monescu watches her hands to remember the turn of the dial. She pulls out 100,000 francs in her safe. He tells her that it is not enough money to put in the safe. She says it's very sensible and clever. He is hired by her to be her secretary.

    A meeting with the board of directors. Monescu says he speaks for the Madame Colet when he says for the board members to resign if they do not like the salary cut. They will think it over.

    Monescu finds out Madame Colet's life insurance is 1 million francs. Burglary insurance is suggested to be raised to 852,000 francs.

    Madame Colet asks Gaston Monescu to come down to enjoy the party. He declines and says he has to be up early in the morning.

    Gaston speaks to the Countess as she types. He tells her that half of her interest will go as usual to her account. The other half will be delivered to Madame Colet's personal custody. He says the money will be theirs. The Countess wants to get the jewelry but Gaston says no jewelry. The Countess wants the necklace with the sea pearls and says it'll go beautiful with her neck. Jacques comes in and says Madame Colet wants to speak to the Countess.

    Madame Colet speaks with the Countess, who is in disguise with glasses. She tells Colet that she has to wake up early to take her brother to school because her mother is dead. The Countess picks up a piece of jewelry and gives it to Colet. The Countess makes Colet's coffee better with sugar cubes. Madame Colet is eating potatoes and notices the Countess is looking at it. Colet says she knows Gaston doesn't want her to eat potatoes and doesn't want to upset him but can't help it. The Madame Colet asks if the Countess has noticed any change. She says yes and no. Colet says he works too much. She wants the Countess to take over some of the duties of his work. She thanks Colet and Colet makes her salary 350 francs.

    The Countess explains that Colet wants Gaston and that 350 francs isn't enough.

    Colet is talking to François on the phone and says she can't see him because of business reasons.

    Gaston says the Countess is talking like a child. She wants more than the jewelry now. She wants Gaston to open the safe now. She wants to leave now because she hates the place. She doesn't want him to become a gigolo.

    A shot of a clock and Countess saying that if Gaston behaves like a gentleman, she'll break his neck.

    Colet wants Gaston to go out to dinner with her tonight.

    A phone rings but no one answers. Gaston and Colet come back. Gaston says goodnight and they complement each other on how they dance.

    The clock strikes twelve. Then when it strikes two, Gaston and Colet say goodnight to each other, Gaston turns off the clock light and goes into his room.

    There is a party of sorts and Colet is waiting for someone. She sees Gaston and takes him away to talk to him. He's introduced to various people. Jacques tells a member of the board that she will meet him in a bit. Filiba and the Major are arguing and Colet quiets them. Colet introduces Gaston to more individuals at the party. A woman tells Filiba that Gaston is Colet's secretary and Filiba becomes suspicious. Gaston speaks to Filiba and asks if they've met before. Filiba doesn't seem to recall the occasion.

    Colet meets with the board member. The board member tells her that there are papers she must attend to herself. He tells her he was a school friend of her husband. He asks who Gaston is and she says he is her secretary. Colet asks Jacques to bring Gaston in.

    Filiba says he knows he never met that man. He says it's driving him crazy that Gaston asked if they met. Filiba confronts him and before he can finish what he wanted to say, Jacques tells Gaston that Colet wants to see him.

    The Major confronts Filiba and says he is giving a dinner party. He asks Filiba if he has a dinner jacket.

    Colet asks Gaston to look over some documents while she goes back out. The board member says he has some questions he has wanted to ask for some time. He hopes he finds those figures of the documents correct. The board member says he's known the Novels for a long time. Filiba smiles at Gaston and then walks off. The man gets mad about Gaston seeming to ignore his inquiries. Gaston asks if he is insinuating anything. They argue about making each other nervous and Gaston tells the man to be calm and that he'll call.

    Gaston goes to the Countess and is about to say something but is interrupted by Jacques. He tells Countess that Filiba is here. Gaston meets Filiba and says goodbye to him. Filiba asks if he has been in Venice. Gaston says no and asks if Filiba has been in a few cities. He says Venice can't compare to Constantinople. Filiba whispers something to Gaston, and Gaston whispers something back that makes Filiba want to go to Constantinople.

    Gaston talks on the phone and buys tickets to Berlin on the night train. They have to leave now. He reserves them under a Spanish name. They'll clean the place out tonight and leave. The Countess speaks Spanish over the phone. He says he'll meet her at the station tonight.

    Gaston calls a flower shop and orders deep red roses and wants them sent to Madame Colet the next day at 10 o' clock. He says to charge it to Madame Colet.

    The Major prepares cards at a dinner table with the names of the people attending the event. He puts Filiba's card at the short end of the table.

    Filiba is sitting on his bathtub with shaving cream on his face. He's pondering something but shakes his head.

    Madame Colet walks out of a room in a black dress. She knocks on Gaston's door and he opens it. She asks what they'll do tomorrow and he says they'll have breakfast, go horseback riding, lunch and then a nap. She asks if he likes her look and he compliments her. They say goodnight and goodbye to each other. She goes down the stairs before Gaston asks if she will be staying out late. She asks why does he ask and then says no. She continues down the steps slowly then rushes back up to his room.

    The Countess is cleaning out her wardrobe while humming.

    Jacques knocks on Colet's door and she answers from Gaston's door. Jacques tells her the car is here but she says she won't be going. As Jacques is leaving, Gaston informs Jacques that Colet changed her mind.

    Colet says she doesn't want to go but Gaston tells her to go so people don't talk about them. He's afraid people will ruin her reputation. She says that Gaston is crazy about her otherwise he wouldn't be thinking about her reputation. She says she doesn't like him and wouldn't hesitate to ruin his reputation. She tells him to kiss her and they kiss.

    Jacques answers the phone and says he'll try to reach Gaston again. He dials a number and says that Gaston and Colet are both busy.

    Countess (the one who tried to call Gaston) puts down the phone and anxiously hums a tune to herself as she continues to pack.

    Jacques comes to Gaston's door and knocks on it. Gaston answers from Colet's door. Jacques says Giron, the board member, is waiting downstairs but Gaston says he can't meet him. He says the Madame is also not going anymore. Colet tells Jacques to not dismiss the car. She's leaving.

    Gaston doesn't want her to leave but she says she wants to make it tougher for him. She leaves after saying they have a long time left. Gaston calls the Countess on the phone.

    The Countess is happy to hear from him. We don't hear what Gaston says to her. She starts to get sad and just answers with one word responses like "oh" and "ah."

    Colet is sitting with a drink in her hand. Filiba and the Major talk about how it must be the secretary that's making her feel good. Filiba compliments the Major's suit. Filiba also says Gaston isn't a bad person and that he's just a secretary. The Major said the first time he saw Gaston, he thought he was a doctor. They realize now something is wrong. Filiba says "tonsils" to Colet.

    Gaston checks his watch. Jacques talks to him.

    Gaston meets Giron, and says he doesn't have the time to talk. Giron knows that Gaston's name is Monescu.

    Colet leaves the party in the car, leaving Filiba and the Major behind.

    Giron says Gaston will pack his things and leave tomorrow or he will call the police. Gaston estimates Giron will be 87 when he comes out of prison for not calling the police in the first place.

    Gaston bids goodbye to Giron by calling him Adolf, walks up the stairs, hears the doorbell and comes back down. He opens it and Giron stands there and tells him to not call him Adolf.

    Gaston heads back into his room and is about to close the blinds when he sees the Countess. She is trying to open the safe. Gaston asks if she's insane and tells her she has to get out of here. and she says she wants to get away from here, away from him. As far as 100,000 francs will get her. She asks what Colet has over her and tells him to not lie to her.

    The Countess is about to leave when Colet arrives. Jacques answers the door and lets Colet in. She walks up the stairs without saying anything. She knocks on a door and Gaston answers from her room. She smiles and walks into the room she knocked on. Gaston joins her and kisses her. She takes off her jewelry and says the man must ask where she wants her jewelry placed. Gaston says the night table and she says she doesn't want to be the lady. She goes to her safe while Gaston looks on. She says Francois thinks Gaston is a remarkable man. Gaston asks what she would say if she found her safe to be robbed. She would call the police instantly. He tells her that Adolf Giron, the board member, has been robbing her for years. He expects the police to believe it if she doesn't. He picks up the phone to dial for the police but she stops him. She sits down and Gaston talks about Giron. He says his name is Gaston Monescu and the police will be happy to identify him. She asks if he took the money and he says yes. She says he wanted 100,000 francs when she thought he wanted her. He tells her he came to rob her but fell in love with her. She walks away and he sees the Countess in the other room.

    Colet sees the Countess. The Countess says she took the money all by herself. Now Colet can have her romance. She advises Colet to put on gloves when she embraces him. It would be too bad if her fingers are found. Colet thanks her for her advice and tells her to go. Gaston walks in and the Countess berates him for wanting to give up 100,000 francs just for Colet. Countess berates Colet for paying so much for a handbag and tells her she can have Gaston. She bids goodbye to Colet and company.

    Gaston leaves and there is commotion outside the door. The sound of running. Colet is left alone to wonder what happened. She sits on a sofa and Gaston comes back in. He walks over to her and bids goodbye. She gets up and shakes his hand while saying goodbye. He says she could have been marvelous, divine and wonderful. He says if she should hear a knock and there is a police with a warrant, she will be glad she is alone. She says it could have been glorious, lovely and divine but for that terrible policeman. He bids goodbye and kisses her. He asks what she's missing and she nods. He says no and pulls out her necklace from his jacket. She says with the compliments of Colet and Company. He puts the necklace back in his jacket and leaves.

    Gaston and the Countess are in a taxi and he searches for the necklace. He looks at her and she pulls it out of her own jacket and puts it in the purse. She looks for the francs and he pulls it out of his pocket. They embrace and kiss.

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