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When Christabel (Joan Fontaine) comes to live with her cousin Donna Foster (Joan Leslie) she fools everyone with her sugary exterior. But soon the calculating, rapacious Christabel begins to sow seeds of discontent between Donna and her wealthy fiancé Curtis (Zachary Scott) by convincing Curtis that his fiancé is a gold-digger.
When their engagement is broken and Donna leaves for London, Christabel tricks Curtis into marrying her. But it is only his money that Christabel is passionate about because she is in love with Nick (Robert Ryan), a rugged writer who loves her in return, but hates her for what she had done and who she is.