Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes.
Annoyed that his brother John Barrymore was trying to show him up by placing his hand on him while he was finishing a scene (an ancient actor's technique for drawing attention to oneself), Lionel Barrymore excused himself from the set and went to the back lot to find a telephone. He then phoned the set and told director Richard Boleslawski that "he'd better advise Mr. John Barrymore to not place his hand on me at the close of this scene, lest I lay one on him!" By the time Lionel returned to the set, John has been advised to keep his hands to himself. See more »
Although considered to be a mystic, Rasputin was neither a monk and nor was he unmarried. He had left behind a wife and several children in his native village on the outskirts of Russia. See more »
While this film may be of interest to film purists because of the three Barrymores together for the only time, the movie is lousy history. The acting is more than a bit overdone, a carryover perhaps from the silent days when double takes and facial quirks had to tell the story. Rasputin's death is inaccurate. He was probably not poisoned at all (as an ascetic, he did not eat sweets, poisoned or otherwise), and he was shot several times, not hit over the head with a poker. And the deaths of the Romanovs was not outside in a courtyard but in a closed, dingy cellar. Their doctor died with them--he didn't escape to London. However, in defense of the screenwriter, many of the details of the Rasputin/Romanov disaster were unknown until after the fall of the Soviet Union. Several books published since, including photographs of Rasputin's dead body, for example, do much to fill out the real story.
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