Synopsis by Mark Deming
A man's youthful indiscretions come back to haunt him in this droll drawing room comedy. Sir Robert Chiltern (Hugh Williams) is a fine and upstanding British gentleman who has distinguished himself in the political arena and is selflessly devoted to his wife (Diana Wynyard). However, it turns out that he wasn't always a paragon of virtue; early in his career working with the British cabinet, Chiltern sold some confidential information regarding the Suez Canal, and Mrs. Cheveley (Paulette Goddard) has made it clear to Chiltern that she knows what he did and is willing to tell others about it. She agrees to keep silent if he's willing to support a proposal currently being debated in Parliament that would put a phony canal through Argentina. A fearful Chiltern agrees, but his best friend Viscount Goring (Michael Wilding) objects, and he tries to persuade Mrs. Cheveley to rescind her blackmail threat, while explaining to Lady Chiltern how a good man could do something so wrong at some point in his life. This was the third screen adaptation of the sophisticated satire by Oscar Wilde.
blackmail, canal, ethics, Parliament, politician, politics