Adapted from Graham Greene's novel, a Spanish composer tries to buy coal in England and is opposed by fascist intrigues.
In October 1937 Luis Denard (Charles Boyer) and Rose Cullen (Lauren Bacall) are delayed by customs coming into England and miss the train. She rents a car and gives him a ride. He has been fighting in Spain. They get a flat and stop at a roadhouse. Rose drinks and dances with Currie (George Coulouris). Denard lost his wife to the fascists and blames Licata (Victor Franken). Denard takes the car but is stopped by Licata and beaten by his chauffeur (Art Foster). Denard warns Rose to be careful.
Denard finds the hotel that has a room for him, and he tells Mrs. Melandez (Katina Paxinou) that her sister was killed in Spain. Rose calls Denard and asks to meet him for dinner. Denard keeps an appointment at a universal language school run by Dr. Bellows (Ian Wolfe). Contreras (Peter Lorre) gives Denard a lesson, and Denard reports to him. On the street a man shoots at Denard. Rose says Currie knew about the meeting; but she is skeptical until she finds the bullet. They go to her place. Denard says his mission is to buy coal. Rose says that Neil Forbes (John Warburton) wants to marry her. She hates her father and men but likes Denard, who says he does not have time.
At the hotel young Else (Wanda Hendrix) warns Denard that Mrs. Melandez and men are after him. He finds Contreras with Mrs. Melandez, and they ask if has the papers. She has a paper replacing him, but he does not trust them. Denard asks Else to help him and promises to take her away. Mrs. Melandez beats Else and, when she refuses to talk, pushes her to her death.
Denard meets Lord Benditch (Holmes Herbert) and other men about buying coal. Benditch demands two-thirds in gold and a 35% bonus. Denard cannot find his credentials and says Benditch's daughter Rose knows he was shot at. Denard tells Licata he is not leaving, and Licata meets with the men. Rose comes in and asks Forbes to believe her. Police question Denard about Else's death, but he suspects Mrs. Melandez and Contreras. Muckerji (Dan Seymour) said that Else was in Denard's room undressed. Denard pulls a gun and escapes. He sneaks into an apartment and calls Rose.
Denard goes to the hotel, sees Contreras leave, and follows him. Contreras says that Mrs. Melandez killed Else and that he has a bad heart. Rose comes in, and Contreras collapses; she says he is dead. A neighbor buzzes, and Rose makes excuses. She tells Denard they signed a coal deal with Licata. At tea Muckerji says his friend saw Mrs. Melandez push Else, and he sent a letter to the police. Denard goes to kill Mrs. Melandez, who has poisoned herself and is dying.
Denard takes a train to the Benditch coal company, which announces it is re-opening. Denard says the coal will be used to kill people in Spain. A worker supports his speech until the chauffeur shoots at them. Rose drives Denard and asks Forbes to help him escape England. He agrees and drives Denard to a hotel, saying they cancelled the contract. Denard runs into Currie and others who call the police. Two men come in and take Denard to a boat. He finds Rose there, and they kiss.
A musician represents the freedom struggle in Spain
against the fascists' attempts to crush them with industrial and
military power. One senses an on-going conflict between amateurs
and professional killers who have sold out to wealthy interests.