This British film, about Napoleon the Third and his estranged, illegitimate daughter who becomes a spy for his court, stars Richard Barthelmess and Dolly Haas and surely has its suspenseful moments, despite being an overall slow-moving period piece. It was based on a novel by the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy. The international tensions between the French and Prussian empires in the 1860's are depicted very clearly. This film features one of the best attempted assassination scenes of a major figure that I have ever seen, if not the best. It makes any film showcasing John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln look tame by comparison.
This was Richard's first and only British film; he was soon to return to America to make a few more films before joining the Reserves in World War Two and after that retiring from pictures to live on his many investments. Dolly Haas was born in Germany, made quite a few films there, and then eventually left Germany and became an American citizen, marrying the caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. As a coincidence, the same year (1936) that this film was made Dolly made a remake of Broken Blossoms, the silent film that made Richard Barthelmess a star back in 1919, playing Lucy Barrows, the part originated by Lillian Gish. And here was Dolly playing opposite a much older Richard Barthelmess in Spy of Napoleon.
This film is recommended for history buffs and Richard Barthelmess' fans.
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