Based on a true story, this political thriller/drama explores the ordeal of Linda Murri (Catherine Deneuve), a 19th-century upper-class Italian woman who was caught in an unhappy marriage and who broke the code of behavior for aristocrats by taking a lower-class lover. After her husband was murdered, Murri stood trial for the murder. Her professor father's socialist opinions were clearly the reason for the harshness of the prosecution. The case was widely known throughout Italy at the time, and caused a national furor. Murri did not actually arrange to murder her boorish nobleman husband Count Bonmartini (Paolo Bonacelli); rather, she told her brother how unhappy she was and that she was afraid for her life. He acted on her complaint by taking the drastic step of murder. The trial resulted in her being given a long prison term, along with her brother (Giancarlo Giannini), her lover Carlo Secci (Ettore Manni) and her brother's assistants Pio and Rosa (Corrado Pani and Tina Aumont). The relentlessness of the prosecutor Giudice Stanzani (Marcel Bozzuffi) and the spinelessness of the family patriarch Augusto Murri (Fernando Rey), the professor with the unpopular opinions, are key dramatic features of this complex story.