Marlene Dietrich stars as Helen Faraday, a German cabaret singer in the States whose husband, Ned, falls ill and his only hope is to receive expensive medical treatment at a clinic in Europe.
Struggling to afford his care and to support their son Johnny, she works at a nightclub and succumbs to the advances of wealthy playboy Nick, whose gifts assist in her husband's recovery. Soon Ned recovers and returns, but when he discovers that Helen has been unfaithful, he divorces her, threatening to take their son.
After running with little Johnny, she ends up a prostitute in New Orleans, where she is found by the detective hired by Ned. The boy is taken from her and Helen flees to Paris where she becomes a cabaret sensation.
Upon witnessing a performance, Nick begins seeing her again and when the show moves to NYC, he secures a meeting between her and her ex -- who is finally made aware of the motivation behind her affair years before.
This is the feature containing the well-known scenes where Dietrich performs stage numbers in an ape-suit and a white tuxedo (complete with top hat).