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'A part of Italy, Trieste, under the Austro-Hungarian Empire in pre-World War I days serves as a classic backdrop for this tale of a handsome young man's initiation to life, sex and class ways of the times. Title character comes from a Jewish family. His mother had been abandoned by his Christian father and they are kept by an irascible uncle. The boy, (Martin Halm), plays at socialism to annoy his uncle, and has a job in a warehouse employing itinerant workers. Ernesto has a first affair with a homosexual worker whom he finally subjugates and discards, and then finds he is also heterosexually inclined when he visits a prostitute.
He meets some rich twins and is drawn to both boy and girl, for they are mixed. Finally, the families arrange a wedding with the girl as Ernesto accepts his role.'