On a rainy London night in 1946, novelist Maurice Bendrix has a chance meeting with Henry Miles, husband of his ex-mistress Sarah, who abruptly ended their affair two years before. Bendrix's obsession with Sarah is rekindled; he succumbs to his own jealousy and arranges to have her followed.
A civil servant's wife (Deborah Kerr) in wartime London vows to leave her injured lover (Van Johnson) if he recovers.
A man is standing at the window, holding a chair. There are wafts of street noise, and occasionally the curtain flutters. A dog is barking. Then, elegiac music sets in, a lavish string arrangement, joined by Billy Holidays love-torn, tragic voice. She is singing «The End of a Love Affair», and the entire agony of the end of her life resonates in it. The man at the window has meanwhile sat down on his chair, and the sad insistence of the song portrays his emotions. Is there something like the ghost of a smile flitting over his face? «And the smile on my face isnt really a smile at all», Holiday sings, and in the end all that is proven is the manipulative power of the combination of image and sound.