Poor but honest district attorney Fredric March, sick of the "one law for rich, one law for poor" imbalance, sentences selfish society girl Claudette Colbert to ten years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. The sentence is reduced to two years due to political pressure; nonetheless, Claudette feels humiliated by March and vows revenge. While incarcerated, the girl learns a few lessons in humility, and by the time she has completed her sentence she has become most popular and kindhearted inmate in the joint. Upon her release, Claudette seeks out March and declares her love for him. Based on a story by Alice Duer Miller, Manslaughter had been previously filmed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1922; the great director used the plotline as an excuse for an extended (and gloriously pointless) flashback to Ancient Rome. This 1930 talkie remake is infinitely more tasteful and restrained than the DeMille version--but not quite as much fun to watch.
by Hal Erickson synopsis