An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.
In this fable-morality subtitled "A Song of Two Humans", the "evil" temptress is a city woman who bewitches farmer Anses and tries to convince him to murder his neglected wife, Indre.
A farmer with a pretty wife and a young child begins a downward spiral after starting an affair with a vacationing woman from the city. She wants him to return to the city with her but when he mentions his wife, she suggests drowning her. The farmer is reluctant but agrees and he and his wife set off that evening for the city in his boat. When the time comes however he can't go through with it but his wife is scared silly. When they reach the city they see a young couple getting married and he begs his wife to forgive him. She does and they have a wonderful day together - they have their photo taken, go to a funfair and then dancing. When returning in their boat in the late evening they encounter a huge storm putting both of their lives in danger.
A woman from the city holidays in the country. There she has an affair with a local farmer, a happily married man with a young child. He is besotted with her and the life she promises for him, to the point that, upon her suggestion, he is willing to drown his wife in order to be with her. With the murder planned, he sets the wheels in motion. Will he go through with it?
Beginning in summer, we meet a 'woman from the city' on vacation in the country, who we then discover is having an affair with a 'farmer'. The 'woman from the city' then proposes that he drowns his wife so they can run away together. Overwhelmed by the woman from the city, he decides to take his neglected wife for a row in a boat. She gets excited for the date, leaving her child at home, ready for a romantic day with her husband, hoping to rekindle their lost love. Whilst our rowing in the little boat, she senses something is not right. He attempts to push her overboard, but backs out last minute. She then escapes into the city, leaving him to chase after her. Eventually, he proves to her how much he loves her and she comes to forgive him as they share the day together, rekindling their love. Still, the thought of the city woman is in the back of his mind. Suffering severe grief and anger, the farmer is faced with a moral dilemma, torn between two loves and with murder on his mind.
- In the summertime, described as vacation time, a Woman from the city (Margaret Livingston) travels to the country to sight see.She lingers in one particular town for weeks. One day she dresses up, asking the wife of her landlord to shine her high heeled shoes, and wanders through town. She arrives at the house of a farmer, The Man (George O'Brien) and his Wife (Janet Gaynor). The Man is about to sit down to dinner with his wife and notices the woman waiting for him. He seems guilty and nervous but he waves the City Woman to an area beyond the house, changes his coat, and leaves his house. His wife comes out from the kitchen, carrying dinner, and sadly notices that her husband has left. Two townswomen discuss how the young married couple used to be as happy as children. A flashback shows a happy farmer, wife, and child. The two old townswomen discuss how things have changed since the city woman arrived. They discuss how money lenders are stripping the farm while the wife sits alone. Another flashback shows two men leading a cow away as the Man watches. The wife leaves the empty dinner table to cry on her childs pillow.
The farmer walks under the moon. He travels deeper into wooded brush, crossing fences and shadows, to meet the Woman from the City. She waits under the moon, fixing her makeup. They meet and kiss. The wife cries alone with her child as the Man embraces the Woman from the City. The Woman from the City says, "Tell me you are all mine." He nods assent. She says, "Sell your farm and come with me to the city." The Man asks, "And my wife?" The Woman from the City says, "Couldn't she get drowned?" The Man recoils at the thought, and nearly chokes the woman in anger. She kisses his anger away and he calms down. The Woman from the City insists that he come to the city. Images of the city, brass bands and skyscrapers, flash above them. The Woman from the City dances under the moonlight. She concocts a plan to kill the wife in a boat accident. She instructs the Man to use a bundle of reeds to save himself, and the Man slinks home. He slinks into his bedroom, lays on his bed and looks at his sleeping wife. He thinks of the dark water and falls asleep.
The Wife watches the Man as he sleeps. She covers him in a blanket and stares at him adoringly. He wakes, sees his bundle of weeds, and remembers his dark purpose. He sees his wife and feels deep remorse. A ghostly image of the Woman from the City caresses him, urging him to commit the murder. He goes to his wife and asks her to accompany him. She responds happily. She leaves her child with a friend, saying that she and her husband are going on a trip across the water. She says goodbye to the child and the family dog. They go to the boat and the farmer stows his bundle of reeds. The dog, tied up at the house, begins to bark wildly, and the Man is disturbed. The dog breaks free and follows them out into the water. It climbs aboard but the Man returns to the shore and takes it back to the house. They disembark again. The Man refuses to look his wife in the eye as he rows. The Wife becomes worried by the crazed look in her eye. The man stops rowing, he looks at his wife, he rises and shuffles ominously toward her. She cowers in fear and raises her hands prayerfully toward him. He loses his urge to kill, falls back to the oars, and rows furiously toward the shore. The boat lands and the Wife immediately runs away. The Man chases her, telling her not to be afraid. The Wife runs to a trolley car and climbs aboard. The man catches the car at the last moment. The car travels through the woods and goes into the city. When the car stops, the Wife bolts into traffic. The Man follows, saying again "Don't be afraid of me" The Man catches his wife and leads her into a restaurant. He gets her a plate of cakes and they sit in silence. Neither can look the other in the eye. She takes a cake and breaks down, weeping bitterly. She leaves the restaurant and the Man follows. He buys her flowers and holds her until her fear and sadness pass. They hear church bells and wander into a wedding ceremony. While watching the exchange of vows the Man breaks down. He cries in terrible shame and guilt, realizing how horrible a husband he has been. He cries in his wife's lap, she leads him away from the ceremony. He begs her for forgiveness. The bells sound and they kiss, their vows renewed. They leave the church and wander into the street oblivious to the busy traffic around them. The city scene around them dissolves into a wooded meadow. When the city returns they wake up in the middle of the street with the traffic stopped around them. They move to the sidewalk and embrace in wedded bliss. They look at wedding photos in a shop window. The Wife urges the Man to get a shave. They enter a barber shop. The Man sits for a shave while the Wife waits and watches. She is annoyed to see a manicurist showing her husband attention. The Man shoos her away. He is annoyed to see a waiting male customer showing her attention. After his shave the Man approaches the customer and frightens him with a pocket knife. The couple go to the photographers shop to have their picture taken. While they try to look austere they become humorous with love and teasing. They kiss deeply and the photographer takes the picture. As they wait for their photo they knock over a statue. When the photographer returns they pay for the picture and leave quickly. The Man replaces the statue head with a rubber duck ball, which amuses the photographer when he sees it.
Meanwhile, the Woman from the City plots selling the farm through a newspaper ad.
The couple go to a large pleasure fair/entertainment district. They play carnival games. At one game a baby pig escapes and everyone in the crowd tries to catch it. There are comic antics involved in catching the pig. The Man succeeds in catching the pig and the crowd cheers him. The crowd urges the couple to dance, and a band plays a country song. The man and Wife do a country dance and the crowd cheer. After the dance, the couple are ushered to a table and drink wine in celebration. They are in a bliss of love and wedded union, they visualize angels drifting above their heads. The waiter arrives to give them their bill. They each pay a part of the bill and leave the carnival as fireworks light up the sky. They board the trolley for home. Soon, they are sailing back to the farm under the moonlight. They drift peacefully. They pass a skiff filled with festive people. The Wife falls asleep. A storm begins to rise. The storm blows through the city and the pleasure district. The storm rocks the boat of the Man and Wife. The Man tries desperately to control the boat. Losing hope, the Man straps the reeds to his wife. They cling together as the boat capsizes.
The storm passes and the man awakes on the rocks. The Man climbs ashore and calls for his wife.
The Woman from the City wakes to the frantic mobilization of the townsfolk. She leaves to witness the search.
The Man is maddened in his search for his wife. Boats search the water, calling her name. The Man follows a trail of floating weeds till he is convinced she has drowned. The man goes home in desolated sadness. The Woman from the City goes to his house. She calls him out. He goes to her in a murderous rage for all he has lost. As he begins to choke her he hears the call that his wife has been found alive. He runs home and arrives as she wakes up. They embrace. A fisherman describes how he found her and the townsfolk share their happiness.
As the sun rises, the Woman from the City leaves on a cart.
As the sun rises, the Man sits by the bed where his wife smiles radiantly at him. They embrace.
They dissolve into the sunrise itself.