Marian Martin (Crawford) is a factory girl living with her mother in a grimy railroad town. Factory boy Al Manning hopes to marry her, but Marian is determined to find a better life. When a train makes a stop in town, Marian looks through the windows and sees the wealthy passengers. She then makes the acquaintance of Wally Stuart, a New Yorker who gives her champagne and writes...
Marian Martin (Crawford) is a factory girl living with her mother in a grimy railroad town. Factory boy Al Manning hopes to marry her, but Marian is determined to find a better life. When a train makes a stop in town, Marian looks through the windows and sees the wealthy passengers. She then makes the acquaintance of Wally Stuart, a New Yorker who gives her champagne and writes down his address, telling her to look him up if she ever makes it to New York. Marian, now tipsy from the champagne, happily returns home. Giggling, she tells Al and her mother that she was drinking down by the railroad tracks.
Al, who was waiting for her and accuses her of being drunk, spots the piece of paper containing Wally's address in Marian's hand, grabs it from her, and tears it up. He then tells Marian that her actions are inappropriate and that she's staying with him. Marian lashes out, telling Al and her mother that no one owns her and that her life belongs to herself. She grabs the torn paper shreds up from the floor and pastes them back together, then leaves for New York City. There, she looks up Wally who gives her some advice on meeting and keeping wealthy men, which Marian uses to begin a relationship with his friend Mark Whitney (Gable), a divorced attorney.
She eventually becomes Mark's mistress and he provides her with a complete make-over, educating her in the arts and culture of his social set. Three years pass and the two entertain with brio and style. Marian and Mark fall in love.
When Mark decides to run for gubernatorial office, however, friends caution him that his relationship with Marian is a serious liability. To cover their relationship, she has changed her name to "Mrs. Moreland" and poses as a wealthy divorcee. Some time later, Al, now running a prosperous cement business, comes to the city hoping to land a big contract. He sees Marian and asks her to marry him, but she refuses. When she overhears Mark talking with some politicians, she realizes that he now plans to marry her, despite the fact that their relationship would cause a scandal. She pretends not to love Mark and says that she is going to marry Al instead.
A political rival soon leaks her true identity and Marian is forced to defend herself at one of Mark's election rallies. As the crowd rumbles, Marian steps up from the audience and tells them that Mark has always been an honorable man, who once belonged to her, but now belongs to them. The crowd cheers as she leaves, sobbing. Outside, Mark catches up to her and tells her that from now on they will be together no matter what. Mark legitimizes their relationship by proposing marriage.
Possessed is a Pre-Code 1931 drama film directed by Clarence Brown, starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film is the story of Marian Martin, a factory worker who rises to the top as the mistress of a wealthy attorney. The screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee was adapted from the 1920 Broadway play The Mirage by Edgar Selwyn. Possessed was the third of eight movie collaborations between Crawford and Gable.