A dreadful secret binds innkeepers Abel and Ursula Hradscheck together. When Szulski, a debt collector from Krakow, arrives one day, unusual events begin to happen. The couple's financial difficulties are suddenly resolved with money supposed stemming from an inheritance and the maid and stable-boy report that Szulski behaves strangely upon his departure. His carriage, but no body, is discovered in the Oder River and investigations into the case turn up another long-dead body under the Hradscheck's pear tree.
This film is a highly analytical and exciting treatment of a classic crime based on the novella of the same title by the great German realist Theodor Fontane.