The picture tells the story of a headstrong young Southern woman during the Antebellum period whose actions cost her the man she loves.
Spoiled, strong-willed New Orleans belle Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) is engaged to banker Preston 'Pres' Dillard (Henry Fonda). In retaliation for Pres refusing to drop his work and accompany her while she shops for a dress, she orders a brazen red one for the most important ball of the year, one where white dresses for unmarried women are expected. All of Julie's friends are shocked, but no one can convince her to give up her whim.At the Olympus ball, every woman on the floor is dressed in white. Pres and Julie's entrance is met with shock and disdain by all present. She finally realizes the magnitude of her social blunder and begs Pres to take her away, but by this time, he is implacable. He forces her to dance with him. All the other dancers leave the floor, finally leaving them alone. When the orchestra stops playing at the instruction of one of the ball's sponsors, Pres orders the conductor to continue. Pres and Julie finish the dance alone, with the assemblage looking on.