René Clément directs this adaptation of Émile Zola's novel 'L'Assommoir', that follows the struggles of a young laundress trying to survive in 1850s Paris. Left to bring up her two young children alone when her lover, Lantier (Armand Mestral), walks out, Gervaise Macquart (Maria Schell) soon falls for the charms of local roofer, Henri Coupeau (François Perier). But her dreams of one day opening her own laundry shop are soon dashed when Henri suffers a serious fall from a roof, preventing him from working again. Refusing to accept defeat, Gervaise borrows money from a friend, Goujet (Jacques Harden), and finally manages to open her shop. Her happiness is short lived, however, when she discovers that, instead of paying back Goujet with her hard-earned cash, Henri has been squandering the money on his increasing alcohol addiction.