Spanish troops arrive in Haarlem and the ladies of town flock to these military charmers. One of the officers is a magnificently handsome Don Juan, who commissions local artists Franz Hals to paint his portrait. Mistaking Lysbeth, Hals’s young wife, for his daughter, the cavalier makes love to her. When he discovers his mistake he nobly turns away from her at the Guildhall ball given by the Burgomaster and his wife, and pursues romance with Maryka, another lady. The following morning he forgets this nobility and asks Lysbeth to run away with him. She, mystified and remembering his previous conduct refuses and remains faithful to her husband. This explains the half smile on the face of the Laughing Cavalier, captured by Franz Hals, even though he never knows its true reason.
With some beautiful scenes re-creating Flemish paintings, Dutch songs, Dutch dances, dancing cavaliers, and even lute solos, this was a lavish treat for the eye and ear, but with such a thin plot that it failed to hold an audience and came off within five weeks.
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