Based on a play by Francis de Croisset and the 1938 Swedish film, a disfigured blackmailer gets plastic surgery and considers changing.
In a Stockholm court Anna Holm (Joan Crawford) is tried for murder. Waiter Herman (Donald Meek) testifies with immunity. In a restaurant Torsten Barring (Conrad Veidt) owes money and sees Anna's deformed face. Herman finds men's coats switched. Bernard Dalvik (Reginald Owen) testifies that Anna fell for Barring. Anna is upset by a mirror and grabs for a gun. Anna overhears Vera Segert (Osa Massen) tell Bernard that she is being blackmailed with letters. Anna tells Bernard, his wife, and Herman to ask for 10,000, because she wants 7,000. Vera testifies Anna called on her and asked for 10,000. Anna slaps Vera. Dr. Gustaf Segert (Melvyn Douglas) comes home and finds Anna has a hurt ankle. He says he can fix her face, but Vera begs him not to.
In court Anna tells her story. She calls on Barring, who admits he took Vera's letter from the coat. Anna says she had twelve operations and then started a new life. She goes to Barring, who says he has a rich uncle, but his grandchild will inherit. Anna becomes the governess to kill him. Consul Magnus Barring (Albert Bassermann) welcomes Anna and takes her to housekeeper Emma (Marjorie Main) and little Erik (Richard Nichols), who loves her. Anna does folk dances with the Consul and Barring. Gustaf arrives and hopes that Anna will reform. Gustaf finds that Anna left Eric too long under a heat lamp. Barring gives Anna a deadline and kisses her. Gustaf is the next witness. Gustaf sees Anna take Eric in a tram, and he joins her with his suspicions. The prosecutor (Henry Daniell) gets Gustaf to admit he is in love with Anna.
Emma testifies that she heard Barring and Anna conspiring to get the estate. Anna gives the Consul a birthday present. The Consul testifies that Anna with Gustaf was racing after the sleigh of Barring and Eric. Anna confesses to Gustaf but says she changed her mind. Barring whips Gustaf and his horses, and Anna shoots him; his body is carried over the falls. The Consul says that Anna is innocent. She says she put a note in the present. Emma admits she took it. Anna asks the Consul to read it, revealing that she was planning to kill herself. The judge (Henry Kolker) dismisses the case. Vera pleads with Gustaf, who spurns her and goes to Anna, who says she loves him.
Anna let the trauma of having a disfigured face turn
her into a criminal; but when she becomes a beautiful woman, she
eventually discovers it is better to be honest. Yet it staggers
the mind that she could even consider killing such a loving child.