A male Polish secret agent and a female Russian secret-police spy smuggle messages to St. Petersburg in candlesticks. While chasing after stolen candlesticks they discover each other's ...
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A male Polish secret agent and a female Russian secret-police spy smuggle messages to St. Petersburg in candlesticks. While chasing after stolen candlesticks they discover each other's identity and fall in love. Written by
Bill Smith <email@example.com>
The plot of "The Emperor's Candlesticks" is total nonsense in the 1930s Hollywood fantasies about benevolent despots, courteous kidnappers, and gallant spies. The story is only an excuse for a masquerade ball and a dash across Europe in pursuit of two candelabras that do not belong to the Russian czar or the Austro-Hungarian emperor, but are a gift from an Austrian nobleman to a Russian noblewomen. The carriers (the Polish Baron Wolensky and the Russian Countess Mironova, played by the stars, William Powell and Luise Rainer) lose and find and mistakenly switch the pair of candelabras.
Powell was unflappable in the midst of many ludicrous plots during the 1930s, often with Myrna Loy as a co-conspirator. Here, he is pitted against a lovely czarist secret agent, played, in a large wardrobe, by the great Luise Rainer. In the two immediately preceding films for which she won back-to-back Oscars ("The Great Ziegfeld" with Powell and "The Good Earth" with Paul Muni) and in her only other readily available film, "The Great Waltz," she suffered mightily. In "Candlesticks" she got a chance to play the kind of glamorous clothes horse role in which Marlene Dietrich specialized, with no occasion for jealousy at all. Dietrich and Greta Garbo both played spies in 1930s movies. Each appeared more sophisticated than Rainer's, but I find Rainer more credible as a spy with regrets about the consequences of her occupation than either Dietrich or Garbo. Rainer was also quite beautiful with high cheekbones and eyebrows as plucked as Dietrich, and received star keylighting from MGM.
Back in a gilded cage, Robert Young got a chance to be charming and gallant, impeded by the humorous bumbling minder played by Frank Morgan.
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