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Transgression

Transgression(1931)

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When a job assignment forces him to relocate in India, English businessman Robert Maury ignores the admonitions of his spinster sister Honora and sends his young country wife Elsie to live in Paris for a year. After a short time in Paris, Elsie loses her social naivete and becomes a sophisticated woman-about-town, attracting the attention of Don Arturo de Borgus, a handsome Spanish bachelor. Out of fear that her attachment to Arturo will lead her to adultery, Elsie informs the Spaniard that their year-long platonic affair must end. On the same day, Elsie receives word that Robert will be arriving from India that night, thus strengthening her resolve to terminate her relationship with Arturo. The ever persistent Arturo, however, begs Paula Vrain, a friend of Elsie, to invite Elsie to a party at a viscountess' home that afternoon. At the party, Arturo romances Elsie and, after a slow tango, convinces her to join him for a few days at his estate in Spain. To Elsie's surprise, Robert, having arrived early in Paris, shows up at the party and is stunned by the changes he perceives in his wife. Elsie, too, finds Robert transformed--colder and more distant--and her discomfort encourages her to postpone her departure for London and slip away to Arturo's remote estate. There, Arturo and his servant Serafin plot to seduce Elsie, who soon succumbs to the don's kisses. Before she will make love to him, however, Elsie insists on writing a letter to Robert in which she declares her love for the nobleman. As Elsie is about to give in to Arturo, Carlos, a local peasant, enters and reveals that the don had seduced his teenaged daughter, who then died in childbirth. Elsie watches horrified as Juan kills Arturo, then remembers the damning letter that has already been mailed to Robert. Unable to intercept the letter in Spain, Elsie rushes home to England and waits day after day for the letter to arrive. Her interest in the mail arouses the suspicions of Honora, who finds a newspaper clipping in which Arturo's murder is discussed in connection with a mysterious "dark lady." Sure that Elsie is the "dark lady," Honora accuses her of adultery in front of a disbelieving Robert, then announces her intention to move. Later, Serafin shows up at the house, posing as a businessman, and threatens to show Robert the letter, which he had never mailed, if Elsie refuses to help him defraud her husband in a business deal. Robert, having overheard Serafin's threats, grabs the envelope and reveals that it contains only blank paper. Thus unarmed, Serafin is forced to depart, while Elsie, who realizes that Arturo had substituted her letter for blank paper, tries to confess to Robert. The devoted Robert, however, refuses to listen and embraces his repentant wife.