Adapted from Kathleen Winsor's rollicking novel. Cromwell is dead and Charles II - played by GEORGE SANDERS - is on the throne in this lavish costume drama. CORNEL WILDE and his noble friend RICHARD GREENE, on their way to London to claim rewards from the king for services rendered, stop at a country inn where Darnell sets her cap at Wilde and asks him to take her with him to London. When he refuses, Darnell runs away from the home of her lowly foster-parents and takes up residence at a tavern where she knows Wilde will stay.
Her cunning plan works when Wilde makes her his mistress but trouble is round the corner when under the patronage of Charles he becomes a privateer and goes off on an expedition, leaving Darnell with his money. Losing this in a swindle and hauled into debtors prison a highwayman prisoner, JOHN RUSSELL, helps her to escape with him and she begins works as his decoy. When Russell is killed, Darnell becomes the mistress of Captain GLENN LANGAN, who places her in the theatre where she enjoys the King's protection. Her son, by Wilde, is born and when he returns from sea, he kills Langan in a duel before heading off again leaving Darnell free to marry elderly Earl RICHARD HAYDN. For Darnell her career upward continues eventually becoming the King's mistress until Wilde returns from his success in America, their son electing to return to the New World while Darnell finds herself jilted by the King and without a position at Court.
Time magazine described the film as, "an account of Slut's Progress" and this is indeed a fabulous opulent epic drama from low life to high life and down again.