Based on a novel by Pierre Louys, a prominent officer and a young revolutionary fall in love with a beautiful but manipulative woman.
In Seville about 1900 during carnival masked Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero) sees Concha Perez (Marlene Dietrich) and follows her home, finding a note from her. Don Pasqual (Lionel Atwill) warns radical Antonio that a reward is offered for him and that Concha is dangerous.
Five years ago officer Pasqual stops Concha from fighting a woman. Investigating a cigarette factory, Pasqual finds Concha working. He gives her a gold coin and waits for her. Pasqual meets her mother (Alison Skipworth) and gives her money to keep Concha out of the factory. Concha kisses Pasqual but says he must love her to kiss her. Pasqual tried to see Concha but couldn't find her home. So he writes he loves her. Three months later Concha comes to Pasqual, who asks her to marry. Concha says her mother needs money. Pasqual sees Concha sing "Three Handsome Sweethearts." Pasqual complains she plays with him, and she takes him to her dressing room. Bullfighter Morenito (Don Alvarado) comes in, and Concha gives him money for food. On a rainy night Pasqual quarrels with Concha and beats her. In the morning Concha calls on Pasqual and says she loves him. Pasqual buys her contract so she can leave with him; but Concha says good-bye and goes out for a ride with Morenito.
Pasqual tells Antonio that he was investigated and resigned his commission. Morenito committed suicide. Antonio promises he won't go near Concha; but he tells Concha that Pasqual is his friend and that he is leaving. She offers Antonio coffee and a ride to the train. Antonio tells her he is a revolutionary. Concha shows him a letter from Pasqual, begging to see her. Concha asks Antonio to kiss her, and Pasqual appears. Pasqual and Antonio quarrel and plan a duel, and Pasqual shoots a card. Concha calls on Antonio, who wrote letters. Concha gets jealous and kisses Antonio. As carnival ends Don Paquito (Edward Everett Horton) complains police arrested people and has them released. Paquito is told of the duel. In the rain Antonio selects a pistol and kisses Concha, who complains to Pasqual that he will kill the man she loves. In the duel Antonio shoots Pasqual, who does not take aim. Paquito arrives and orders them all arrested. Concha asks Paquito if he still loves her. Concha visits Antonio in jail and gets Paquito to give her two passports. At the hospital she thanks Pasqual for sparing Antonio. Concha and Antonio clear customs. Antonio boards the train for Paris, but Concha goes back to Pasqual.
In director von Sternberg's last collaboration with Marlene Dietrich she is more alluring than ever and shows how an attractive woman can make fools of men. For its revolutionary implications the film was banned in Spain.