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William K. Howard
A young Russian girl is forced into a life of prostitution in Czarist Russia, and she and a British journalist find their lives endangered when she reveals to him information regarding the social crimes rampant in her country. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Curious melodrama with a heavy bias against imperialist Russia.
This must have seemed old fashioned even when it was made. The story had to be a holdover from the silent days.
Poor, virtuous peasant Elissa Landi is persecuted by leering aristocrat Lionel Barrymore in pre-revolutionary Russia. Laurence Olivier, in his only his second U.S. movie, is the Western journalist who offers Landi his love and a chance at escape. Boris Karloff plays a drunken orderly.
Whereas Olivier attempts to bring a light touch to his thankless role, neither Landi nor Barrymore seem to know the meaning of the word 'restraint.'. This has an interesting consequence. Whereas Landi is insufferably hysterical, Barrymore provides the best reason to watch; a portrait of sheer, camp villainy that just keeps getting better and better as the film goes on.
Hard to take seriously. Watch it for Barrymore alone.
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