In the middle of the 19th century, the stern and somewhat puritanical values of native New Englanders were little changed from early Colonial times. In this adaptation of Henry James' novel The Europeans, The Countess Eugenia (Lee Remick) and her brother Robert (Robin Ellis) are expatriate Americans who have grown up mainly in Europe.
They have also grown accustomed to living well and have returned to see their New England relatives to try and take advantage of their prosperity by contracting an advantageous marriage with one of their wealthy cousins. The American cousins see them as charming, well-educated, and shockingly dissolute.
Despite some successes, Eugenia is unable to achieve her objectives, but Robert fares somewhat better.