A rare mid-career flop for director François Truffaut when it was released, Mississippi Mermaid has become a cult favorite, thanks in part to the availability of the original French version, which added 13 minutes to the U.S. release running time. Adapted from a story by William Irish, it's a noirish tale of a man who orders a mail-order bride but receives instead a con woman. Louis Mahe (Jean-Paul Belmondo) owns a tobacco factory on the remote Indian Ocean island of Reunion. His bride, Julie Roussel (Catherine Deneuve), looks nothing like the photo she sent him, but she explains that she had forwarded a picture of a friend instead. After Louis allows Julie access to both his personal and company bank accounts, she disappears with most of his fortune. Heartbroken and bitter, he takes a holiday in the south of France and improbably spots "Julie" on a TV news story. When he tracks her down, she reveals her real name, Marion, and how she and her con-man boyfriend, Richard, had intercepted the real Julie on the boat Mississippi that was headed for Reunion. Richard threw Julie off the ship and Marion assumed her identity, but once the two thieves returned to France, Richard made off with the money. Marion professes that she fell in love with Louis, and he believes her. They try to make a life together in France, but a private detective whom Louis and Julie's sister, Berthe, had hired to find Marion, tracks them down to a house they have rented in Aix en Provence, forcing them to go on the run.
by Tom Wiener synopsis