A jinxed and alcoholic actress is given another chance by the love of an architect, who breaks his engagement; but she is still married and tries to kill her husband or herself.
Don Bellows (Franchot Tone) changed from Wall Street to become an architect because he was inspired by actress Joyce Heath (Bette Davis). Although happily engaged to Gail Armitage (Margaret Lindsay), Don helps the drunk actress by taking her to his country house. She realizes he pities her, but he is grateful too. Joyce says peace is for the dead, and desire is for the living. Don invites her to spend a week at the house and leaves for work. Joyce breaks into the alcohol. The housekeeper, Mrs. Williams (Alison Skipworth), tells Don that Joyce is dangerous. Don tells Joyce about hysterical maenads who run off cliffs, and she takes the warning. Because of the rain Don stays overnight. Joyce says she wants to play in But to Die and reads a play about a man who has to say good-bye to a woman, who has forever until dawn. Don kisses Joyce but apologizes for it in the morning, saying he is engaged. Joyce laughs and says Don is dull. Don leaves but finds the road is closed. He returns and finds Joyce crying. She says her pride was hurt and kisses him. They play cards. She tells Don she loves him.
Don has trouble working and calls on Gail, asking if it would matter if there was someone else. She says it would and gives the ring back. Don asks George Sheffield (Pierre Watkin) about producing But to Die. Sheffield says Joyce could play it, but he wouldn't risk the money. Don puts up the $80,000, and Sheffield will produce and direct. Don tells Joyce about the play and wants to marry her. She rehearses, and Sheffield says he has a hit. Don gets Joyce to agree to marry after the opening. Joyce calls on Gordon (John Eldredge), who still loves her and refuses to give her a divorce. She invites him to the country and intentionally drives into a tree. At the hospital a reporter calls in the story. The doctor tells Don that Joyce will recover, but her husband is badly hurt. Don learns that money is no longer available for his architecture project because of the scandal. He tells Joyce her jinx is selfishness that costs others and that she has debts to pay. Joyce asks Sheffield to re-open the play that had failed without her. She tells Don that he no longer matters to her. Joyce makes the play successful, and Don weds Gail. Joyce takes flowers to Gordon at the hospital.
Inspired by her emotional art, Don helps high-strung Joyce to realize she has been sabotaging herself and others.