Adapted from Rafael Sabatini’s novel, an illegitimate son loves an actress but sets out to revenge the murder of his revolutionary friend and thinks the fiancé of the man he intends to kill is his sister.
Queen Marie Antoinette (Nina Foch) summons Noel, the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer), and tells him to stop killing nobles with his sword. She suggests he marry Aline de Gavrillac (Janet Leigh). Andre Moreau (Stewart Granger) learns from a theater troupe that Lenore (Eleanor Parker) is getting married. He discourages the groom and tells Lenore that he will marry her. His best man Philippe de Valmorin (Richard Anderson) is a revolutionary and says goodbye to his father, Georges de Valmorin (Lewis Stone), and his mother.
The lawyer Fabian (Curtis Cooksey) tells Andre that his allowance is stopped. Andre is told that his father’s name is Gavrillac. Philippe tells Andre that Lenore left. They meet Aline on the road, and in a coach Andre reads her palm, learning her name is Gavrillac. Her father has just died. Philippe and Andre are arrested, but Noel frees them and wants to kill the pamphleteer. Noel challenges Philippe to a sword duel. Noel kills Philippe, and Andre duels Noel. Andre says he will kill Noel and escapes on a horse.
Andre goes to Aline, who says that Noel is her guardian. Andre flees and plays the clown Scaramouche in the theater troupe. On stage Lenore beats Scaramouche. Soldiers look for Andre, but Lenore helps him escape. Andre tries to kiss her, and she slaps him. They fight with frying pans.
Doutreval of Dijon (John Dehner) teaches Andre fencing. Scaramouche and Lenore perform. Afterward he kisses her, and she bites him. At a fencing lesson Andre has to duel Noel. Aline comes in, and Andre escapes. She tells Noel that she loves Andre.
Lenore is jealous, and Andre says they are going to Paris. Three gentlemen pursue Lenore. Perigore of Paris teaches Andre dueling. Andre tells Lenore that he wants to avenge Philippe’s murder.
Lenore goes to Aline and asks her to stop Andre from fighting Noel. Aline finds Andre and says that Noel is not coming. She asks Andre if he loves her. She tells him that she will always love him. Aline rides away so that Noel will follow her.
Andre tells Lenore that Noel did not come. Dr. Dubuque (John Litel) asks Andre to enter politics as a deputy. Dr. Dubuque introduces Andre in the Assembly. He calls for Noel, who is absent. De Rouge challenges Andre to a duel. Andre comes into the Assembly and says De Rouge will be absent permanently. Andre defeats another peer. Noel wants to meet Andre, but Aline insists that he take her to the theater.
Scaramouche and Lenore perform. Andre announces that Noel is there. Andre duels Noel in the balcony, and the fight continues on the stage. Andre corners Noel and lets him live. Andre tells Georges de Valmorin that he could not kill Noel. Georges tells Andre that Noel and he had the same father and are brothers. Lenore tells Andre that Aline loves him. Andre kisses Lenore, who tells him to go.
In the final scene Andre is going to wed Aline, and Lenore throws him an exploding bouquet.
This romantic adventure set during the French revolution reflects how private vengeance was settled in private duels by aristocrats, showing that feudalism was on its last legs as the people were about to revolt.