Three of Hollywood's more enterprising women created this sentimental treatise on sin and redemption: Mrs. Wallace Reid (the former actress Dorothy Davenport) produced and co-directed (with Walter Lang) and Dorothy Arzner's screenplay was based on a story by influential journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns. Priscilla Bonner starred as Gabrielle Darley, a real-life prostitute acquitted of murdering her procurer in 1917. Left in a New Orleans brothel by a bounder she mistakenly believed to be her fiancé, Gabrielle tracks down the man (Carl Miller) in a Los Angeles jewelry shop and kills him in cold blood. Immediately regretting her brutal act, Gabrielle is resigned to her fate when the jury surprisingly returns a verdict of not guilty. A free woman, Gabrielle wants to change her wayward life by becoming a nurse, but is instead invited to live in the palatial Wilshire Boulevard estate of Mrs. Fontaine (Virginia Pearson). With Freddy the chauffeur (Theodore Von Eltz) as her only ally, Gabrielle is cruelly paraded in front of Mrs. Fontaine's society friends, some of whom "have skipped a matinee to see you." Tiring of the notoriety quickly enough, Mrs. Fontaine arranges for an interview with the local hospital, knowing full well that Gabrielle's sordid past will prohibit her ever becoming a nurse. Distraught and penniless, Gabrielle returns to New Orleans, never realizing that Freddy is desperately searching for her. Chased by a pimp in the French Quarter, the exhausted girl runs out into the crowded street and is hit by a passing car. While recovering in the hospital, she fortuitously learns that the hospital needs personnel due to the devastating influenza epidemic and is soon employed as a cleaning woman. It is in the hospital where she is finally found by Freddy as he arrives with soldiers wounded overseas. Despite being shipped off to fight the war in Europe the following day, the former chauffeur vows to return and make Gabrielle his wife. A huge box-office success, The Red Kimono ended up nearly bankrupting Mrs. Reid when the real Gabrielle Darley sued for libel. In the end, Darley won a huge settlement that included the Beverly Hills home which Reid had shared with her late husband, 1910s matinee-idol Wallace Reid.
by Hans J. Wollstein synopsis