The cinemazation of Balzac's novel Splendeurs et Miseries de Courtesans stars Paul Wegener in a dual role. Escaping from prison, the scurrilous Collin manages to pass himself off as the Marquis de Herraras, setting himself up in the Marquis's magnificent mansion. He is able to keep his secret until a scheming courtesan named Rene (Andree La Fayette) threatens to turn him over to the police unless he ponies up a fortune in blackmail money. For the sake of his grown son, whose respectable position in society would evaporate if the truth about his father's criminal past were known, Collin kills Rene and braces himself for the consequences. Survival was hacked to pieces by the American censors, not only because of the unsavory nature of the protagonist but also because of the excessive on-screen drinking and "sex stuff."