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In 1917 Lt. Bill Gordon is headed for France when he meets and becomes friendly with Joel Carter, niece of the Asst. Secretary of War. Finding out that he is an expert on codes, she gets her uncle to cancel Bill's orders and has him reassigned to break enemy codes. In his new assignment he becomes involved with beautiful Russian spy Olivia Karloff, who is working for the Germans, and must juggle Joel's affection and his pursuit of Karloff's connections to retrieve a stolen code book. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
I think this film is a lot more enjoyable than did almost any of the other reviewers. They say the Russell character is annoying, and some even seem to blame it on the actress, rather than on the script, with one even claiming that she tries to steal the film from Powell. If you don't like it, blame the writer(s), but not the performers. I had never heard of this film before, had no knowledge that Russell was put into it as a Loy substitute or as a possible threat to Loy's status at MGM, yet almost the first thing that hit me about the film while watching it is what an excellent Nora Charles Rosalind Russell would have made. Up to the point of seeing this film, I had never even thought of anyone measuring up to Loy in that role, but Russell might well have done so. The character may be objectionable to some viewers, but the performance is perfect for what is being asked of her. Powell, of course, is standing on the top of Mount Everest in a role like this; nobody could ever touch him. But the whole cast is very good, most especially Binnie Barnes, who even only two years after THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII, has already done a marvelous job of shedding her British accent, but we're so used to her as a fairly high-comedienne that it comes as a surprise to see her here as a somewhat sympathetic-but-still-ruthless villainess, and she's really quite perfect (as she had been as Henry's last choppee!). I thought this a most enjoyable film throughout, mainly for the performances, true, but also for its lightness of touch.
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