James Hilton adapted his own novel in this anti-war drama about a doctor and his son's governess who are falsely convicted of murdering his scolding wife.
In 1914 England Dr. David Newcome (Paul Muni) comforts his son Gerald (Raymond Severn) but is nagged by his wife Jessica Newcome (Flora Robson). David treats Tommy for asthma and says it is caused by cats. David treats the broken arm of Austrian Leni Krafft (Jane Bryan). David finds she tried to commit suicide with gas; he revives and encourages her. Jessica quarrels with David over his coddling Gerald. David takes Gerald to a carnival with Leni. Jessica suggests they hire her as a governess. Gerald and Leni like each other. Jessica asks Leni to leave and tells David she was a dancer and attempted suicide; but David forbids Jessica to turn out Leni. Gerald tells his mother he no longer fears her. Jessica tells David she took Gerald to her brother. She blames Leni, but David blames Jessica. David tells Leni she can stay until she finds a place.
David comes home from a dying patient to a concert, and Leni tries to cheer him up. Jessica takes headache pills and tells David to join the guests; but he writes a reference letter for Leni to a school. Jessica tells David she added a letter to his. David warns Leni she won't get the job.
War begins. Gerald breaks a bottle and puts pills in another bottle. David sees his servant Susan (Una O'Connor) throwing a rock at a German shop amid war hysteria. David plans to take Leni away. Susan tells Jessica that David left without his bag. David takes Leni on his bicycle, but they miss her train. Dr. Stacey is called to treat Jessica at 1 a.m.; but she died, and David and Leni are arrested for murder.
Dawson (Henry Daniell) prosecutes them for poisoning Jessica. Susan testifies that Jessica and David quarreled because of Leni. David dozes in court and won't let his lawyer talk to Gerald. Dawson asks David about a bottle and poison tablets and asks if he is in love with Leni. David thinks and says he does love her. David and Leni are found guilty and are sentenced to be hanged. Clintock tells the Governor that Leni has a false passport and could be a spy. In jail David asks Dr. Stacey about Gerald, who is with his brother-in-law, an archdeacon and prison chaplain. David and Leni ask each other what happened. David says that many innocent people are being killed because of an early experiment. Leni says they will find each other and Gerald. She faints. The chaplain (Alan Napier) visits David and says that Gerald knows nothing. David says he could never kill anyone and criticizes the war. David thanks his guards for their kindness, and they say he will die at 9 a.m. At that time Gerald tells Susan that David said she has a heart of gold.
This allegorical drama suggests that war is an accident amplified by hatred that causes many innocent people to be killed. The tragic ending based on an undiscovered mistake mirrors the tragedy of war. The loving qualities of David and Leni are contrasted to the harshness of Jessica.