Paula is a circus performer married to clown-acrobat Lorio. Lorio drinks heavily, and eventually he is critically injured when he performs drunk. The crippled Lorio and Paula are forced to become street musicians.
A group of wealthy young men who had previously seen Paula at the circus decide to invite the two to perform at their private “bachelor” party, at which Paula is the main attraction. The young men vie for her attention, give her an expensive necklace and offer Lorio money to turn her over to them. Outraged, Paula leaves and refuses to return to the streets to perform. But when they are truly destitute, she returns to offer herself to one of the gentlemen, the artist Volyntsev.
As Lorio sinks deeper into poverty, Paula enjoys her life as a rich man’s mistress – for a while. Her lover becomes too possessive for her taste, and eventually tires of her. When Volyntsev attempts to offer her to a younger rival, Telepnev, Paula leaves him for another young man – Zaritskiy, who is deeply in love with her. Zaritskiy is an inveterate gambler, and playing against Telepnev, he has lost a huge sum of money. Desperate, he devises a plot to steal a cheque he gave to Telepnev. While Paula unwittingly serves as decoy, distracting the party by singing for the guests, her lover sets off the alarm as he attempts to break into the safe. Telepnev doesn’t recognise Zaritskiy in the dark room, and shoots him.
Thus concludes the first part. The second part is considered to be lost.
Production Co: D. Kharitonov
Directed by Pyotr Chardynin, Cheslav Sabinsky (co-director)
Cinematography by Vladimir Siversen
Art Direction by Aleksei Utkin
Pyotr Chardynin as Lorio, Musik-Clown
Konstantin Khokhlov as Olekso Presvich, a hypnotist and illusionist
Vera Kholodnaya as Paula, Lorio’s partner
Ivan Khudoleyev as Prakhov, a merchant
Vladimir Maksimov as Volyntsev, an artist
M. Masin as Innokentii, Prakhov’s valet
Yanina Mirato as A lady of the demi-monde
Vitold Polonsky as Telepnev, a rich gentleman
Olga Rakhmanova as Volyntsev’s mother
Ossip Runitsch as Zaritskii, a barrister