Two actors and a playwright love the same actress, who goes off with a wealthy count.
In Paris on the boulevard of crime Frederick Lemaitre (Pierre Brasseur) tries to pick up Garance (Arletty). Avril (Fabien Loris) brings stolen silver to playwright Pierre-Francois Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand). Garance comes to see Pierre every day, but he says he loves no one. On the street a watch is stolen, and Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) mimes what happened, clearing Garance, who tosses him a flower. Jericho (Pierre Renoir) brings props to the theater. Frederick wants a job acting. The actors mime before a wild audience. Anselme Debureau (Etienne Decroux) starts a fight on stage that a feud escalates. Actors leave, and Frederick offers to go on; but Baptiste is chosen. Nathalie (Maria Casares) wants Baptiste to love her. Baptiste helps Frederick find a room, and Hermine (Jeanne Marken) shows him one as he romances her. Baptiste sees that Garance does not love Pierre, who accuses Jericho of being an informer for money. Baptiste dances with Garance and is thrown out by Avril. Baptiste knocks Avril down and leaves with Garance, saying he is a dreamer. Baptiste says he loves her, and they kiss. Garance says she lost her job and room; so he takes her to Hermine for a room. As she takes off her dress, he turns away. Baptiste wants her to love him as he loves her, but he seems too serious for her.
Frederick hears Garance, and they talk. Baptiste performs on stage with Nathalie as a statue, but Frederick gets her to go with him. Baptiste has a rope and lets Nathalie put laundry on it. She cries out on stage and is fined. Nathalie says that Garance is living with Frederick, but Baptiste knows they are not in love. Edouard (Louis Salou) brings Garance flowers and offers her much. Baptiste whips the flowers. Nathalie says that Garance does not love Baptiste, and he tells Nathalie to go. Someone cries murder at Hermine's, and Garance is questioned by the police. She gives them Edouard's card.
Several years later Frederick talks with two actresses and is accosted by angry men. He is rehearsing a play with words. An audience laughs as he changes the script, and the three authors complain. Pierre asks Frederick for money and is given some. Pierre has Avril come forth. Frederick has a duel and shows up drunk. He has a wounded arm when he goes to see Baptiste's show and finds Garance there. She has been traveling with Edouard. Baptiste performs mime, and Garance says she thinks of him every day. Frederick feels jealous. Frederick and Baptiste praise each other. Baptist and Nathalie have a son. Baptiste avoids Jericho, who tells Nathalie that Garance is back. Little Baptiste tells Garance that his parents are happy, and Garance says she is alone. Frederick tells Baptiste that Garance would like to see him. At her rich home she finds Pierre, who quarrels with Edouard on the stairs. Garance tells Edouard that Pierre is a thief. She loves Baptiste, but he has a new life.
Hermine consoles unemployed Baptiste, who regrets he missed his chance with Garance. Nathalie tells Hermine that she is waiting for Baptiste to come back. Garance and Edouard watch Frederick play Othello, but she says he is not the man she loves. Baptiste sees Garance and leads her outside. They love each other and kiss. Pierre sees this and talks with Frederick and Edouard before opening the curtain to show Garance with Baptiste. Edouard gives Frederick his card for a duel. Garance goes with Baptiste to his room for love. Pierre and Avril go to a Turkish bath to see Edouard. Pierre kills Edouard and tells Avril to leave. Garance tells Baptiste that she will go back to Edouard to stop the duel. Nathalie comes in and learns that Garance and Baptiste always loved each other. Garance leaves, and Baptiste runs after her in the crowd.
This theatrical film was made during the Nazi occupation,
and some in the resistance were protected by being involved in
the production. The personal relationships of the actors are reflected
in their dramatic performances.