A young ex-seminarian named José is doing his military service in Córdoba. There he meets Carmen, a beautiful flamenco dancer who falls madly in love, to the point that he steals to get money for her, so he will be imprisoned. José does not support the separation and, when he is driven by the Civil Guard on a train, he runs off by jumping out the window. He then left for Madrid in search of Carmen, who now lives in the company of his uncle, the lame, master of dancers. The woman welcomes José coldly, although they engage in a strange and tense relationship behind the back of El Morao, her former pimp, who lives with her again.