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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film's initial telecast took place in Philadelphia Saturday 6 April 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6); it was first aired in San Francisco 10 March 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), in New York City 25 October 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), and in Los Angeles 21 June 1959 on KTTV (Channel 11). See more »
Early espionage thriller with light touch of romance
By the mid-1930s, the Poles and Russians had been feuding bitterly for nearly 1,000 years. The first two decades of the 20th century had been tumultuous for much of the world, culminating with WWI the war to end all wars. Near the end of that war, France executed Mata Hari, an exotic dancer from the Netherlands. She was convicted of spying for Germany against the Allies. Espionage was now commonly known to exist between rival countries, especially the Soviet Union and Western Europe.
All of this provided a solid background for the plot in "The Emperor's Candlesticks." It is based on a novel by the same name written by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. The Hungarian-born British author was one of the early female writers of mystery and intrigue. Her best works were in historical fiction. The most famous of these were "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and its sequels. Two excellent adaptations of the Pimpernel have been made into movies in 1934, and 1982 for TV.
While Orczy's book was published in 1899, the 19th century had much of the same political turmoil as the early 20th century. Orczy moved several times throughout Europe with her family before settling in London. No doubt, she had read or heard about suspected espionage between nations in that time. So, she wove a very nice tale of secrecy and intrigue into this story with a subdued but blooming romance.
For its part, Hollywood's MGM team added some wit and glamor to the story and made it an all around appealing movie with top stars. Some other reviewers before the time of this writing (Oct. 2013) didn't see much in the plot, or thought it very silly. Certainly, the background for the plot was spot on for the time and geography of the film. As to the story well, it's fiction, and romance, and entertainment what many movies are meant to be.
I found this an overall interesting and most enjoyable movie. It has just the right amount of intrigue with a light touch of wit and humor. And, in the hands of William Powell, Luise Rainer, Robert Young and supporting cast, it's a very good movie.
There's one piece of trivia that might be of interest to viewers. A scene toward the end of the film has the Russian Czar in it, but we never see the actor's face. At the time of this movie, and well into the 1950s, Hollywood would not show on film the faces of actors in roles of key world figures such as the U.S. President, or kings, queens or other prominent rulers. Today, of course, it would seem awkward not to show the faces of actors in any roles. Perhaps, in times past those offices were held in higher regard and public esteem than they are today?
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