Madame Gerard is a divorcee living the high life in Paris. Her current lover is the overweight Percy Talandier but then she meets Count Lerski and sets her sights on him. Then she hears from her ex-husband Adolphe that Lerski is not a count, but works as a waiter.
A gold prospector strikes it rich, but the crooks who run a frontier town take it away from him. He determines to get it back and clean up the town.
A renowned doctor and his brother live and work together until the brother falls in love with Marie, a singer, and gives up medicine to be with her. After a time however, she misses her old life and goes back on the stage – an act which leads her lover to commit suicide. Later the doctor and Marie also meet, and she becomes his mistress. He finds out about his brother’s suicide and goes through his artifacts looking for a clue as to what might have been the cause. He finds a photograph of Marie and realizes the truth, which decimates their relationship.
Sanger, an eccentric expatriate composer, dies in his house in the Austrian Alps, leaving his daughters penniless. The young composer Lewis Dodd, a longstanding friend of the family, falls in love with their cousin Florence when she comes to take the girls back to England. But little Tessa Sanger is in love with Lewis herself, and when she runs away from school and comes to live with Florence and her husband, their already-shaky marriage is further undermined…
Maldone is a canal worker, happy with his life after running away from his family estate. He falls in love with Zita, a young gypsy girl, during a local fete. However, after his brother dies, Maldone is called back to manage the estate. There, he takes up the life of a landowner and marries a neighbor’s daughter. Years later Maldone is still restless on the estate, and becomes obsessed with Zita, after meeting her by chance one evening.
An honest police captain named McQuigg becomes a tough rival to a powerful bootlegger named Scarsi, even though McQuigg’s pinches never stick because Scarsi and his organization control the corrupt politicians and judges. When Scarsi can’t scare McQuigg off, he gets him transferred to a quiet police precinct in the suburbs, but McQuigg continues their war of words via a pair of wisecracking newspaper reporters.
The plot focuses on Gaillac, an electrician employed by the Paris Opera. In love with gorgeous ballerina Suzanne, Gaillac must play second fiddle to Suzanne’s wealthy “protector,” powerful politician Count Montoire. When the Opera personnel go on strike, Gaillac is appointed leader of the strikers, doing his job so well that he is ultimately elected Secretary of Labor in the French cabinet. Now on equal footing with Montoire, Gaillac is at last a “worthy” suitor for Suzanne – who can’t make up her mind between her two well-connected admirers, leading to a political rivalry the likes of which Paris has never seen.