January, 1947. The war has been over for two years. London's in ruins. To make matters worse, one of the great stage actors of the day, Charlie Grice, has suddenly died. His wife Joan, the wardrobe mistress, is grief-stricken. She's persuaded to attend a benefit performance of his last play, and watch an understudy in Charlie's role. She dreads it. But when the actor appears onstage, Joan is startled to see that behind the new man's eyes burns the living spirit of her husband. Later, backstage, she meets him, and yes, Charlie's coming through. There's no doubt in her mind. She's giddy with elation. She befriends the young actor. She starts to give him Charlie's clothes. The friendship soon becomes a love affair, Joan all the while seeing within the understudy the living ghost of her husband. Then one night, by chance, as she goes through Charlie's wardrobe, she uncovers his horrifying secret. She's devastated.