La Tempete (The Tempest) is based loosely on characters created by Honore de Balzac. In one of the strangest roles of his career, Erich Von Stroheim plays an international criminal whose latest scheme involves the selling of a hair-straightening potion to African Americans. In order to gain the confidence of his customers, Von Stroheim applies shoe polish to his countenance and poses as a black man! Eventually tracked down by the law, Von Stroheim takes refuge in an apartment owned by blackmailing newspaper reporter Marcel Dalio, who delights in shaking down his "guest." The plot is indirectly resolved by Annie Ducaux, the honorable wife of another of Dalio's victims, who manages to exhume Von Stroheim's long-dormant sense of decency.
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