Adapted from the play by Elsie T. Schauffler, the Irish leader for home rule overcomes slander but is defeated by a divorce scandal.
In 1880 Charles Stewart Parnell (Clark Gable) says good-bye to Irish in New York and is welcomed back to Ireland. He tries to pay rent for a homeless family and is arrested. In jail Parnell oversees election work and tells demonstrators to leave. Katie O'Shea (Myrna Loy) asks Aunt Ben Wood (Edna May Oliver) why she can't get a divorce from Willie O'Shea. Katie hears Parnell speak in the House of Commons for an Irish parliament. Gladstone (Montagu Love) gets Parnell suspended, and all the Irish join him. Parnell meets Katie, who invites him to dinner. Willie O'Shea (Alan Marshal) asks Katie for 2,000 pounds for election expenses. Parnell tells Katie that he is drawn to her, but she says she is seeing him for Willie. Campbell (Edmund Gwenn) shows Parnell murder accusations against him. Parnell asks Katie to believe in him and leaves.
Parnell says the charges are false and asks the House to clear him. Parnell goes with Katie and kisses her. Parnell goes to Ireland to calm the crowd. Parnell is ill, and Katie gets a telegram. Katie goes to see Parnell and offers to take care of him in her house. Parnell asks Katie to marry, but she says they must wait. Clara Wood (Billie Burke) tells Aunt Ben that Parnell living there is a scandal. Katie asks Willie for a divorce, but he puts it off because of the trial. Parnell's lawyer Charles Russell (George Zucco) tells Parnell bad news. During the trial Katie gives Parnell a letter from Richard Pigott (Neil Fitzgerald), and cross-examination proves he is a forger. Pigott goes out and shoots himself. Parnell is vindicated in the House.
Parnell tells Katie and his party that Gladstone will support his home rule bill for Ireland. The elderly O'Brien thanks Parnell. Willie asks Parnell for a cabinet seat, and Parnell says no. Katie is sued for divorce with Parnell as correspondent. News reports the scandal. Parnell writes to see Gladstone privately, but Campbell reports there is no reply. Parnell tells Campbell he will not defend himself in the divorce. Katie tells Parnell she will deny it and tells him to go away; but he persuades her that divorce is better so that they can be together. Gladstone demands that Parnell resign. The Irish debate over Parnell. Campbell and Katie plead with Michael Davitt (Donald Crisp); but most of the Irish party abandons Parnell, who slugs one of them. Parnell collapses and learns he is dying. Parnell insists on going home and collapses again. Parnell sits up to speak to the men, and Katie cries. Parnell tells them to forget personal differences for Ireland and to expect their leader to be a man, not a god. Parnell calls Katie and dies.
This essentially accurate true story portrays Parnell's impressive political career that was destroyed by his love for a separated but married woman. Unfortunately negative reviews by critics have caused this fine film to be neglected when it came out and since then.