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The film establishes Rudolph is a rebellious "man of the people", at eternal odds with his despotic father, Emperor Franz Joseph. To keep him quiet and out of trouble, Rudolph is forced into an arranged marriage, and surrounded by Hapsburg informers and spies. In an effort to escape this oppressive atmosphere, a disguised Rudolph dashes off to a fair, where he meets the beauteous 17-year-old Marie. Thus begins an illicit romance, which the lovers try vainly to keep secret from the prying eyes of the Emperor's flunkeys.