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Because he can pass as a Russian, A.J. Fothergill is recruited to spy on the revolutionary movement in Russia in 1913. He becomes imprisoned in Siberia, as a revolutionary, until the 1917 uprisings. Amid the turmoil of the civil war between the red and white armies, he tries to flee Russia along with the beautiful Countess Alexandra. Written by
Robert Donat is a British spy who is a "Knight Without Armor" in this 1937 Alexander Korda film, also starring Marlene Dietrich as a widowed Countess. Donat is A.J. Fothergill, a Brit in Russia who is recruited to spy on the revolutionary movement in 1913 because of his knowledge of the language. After being imprisoned in Siberia, he's released due to the 1917 revolution. As an assistant to a commissar he met in Siberia, he is assigned to the takeover of the estate of Countess Alexandra (Dietrich). He has to take her to Petrograd, and ultimately, they fall in love. He then attempts to get her out of the country.
A very good and absorbing film with Donat and the beautiful Dietrich giving wonderful performances as they trudge through Mother Russia. Be she in peasant clothes, babushka, nightgown, wedding gown, or evening gown, Dietrich looks fabulous, makeup intact. The most stunning scene takes place in the beginning when she wakes up in her gorgeous bedroom and rings for her maid. No maid. She gets up and searches the house. Nobody. She goes outside in her long white flowing nightgown, hair loose. Nothing. She spots her maid and calls to her. The maid runs. Dietrich turns around to see the entire horizon covered with soldiers coming at her. Fabulous.
There are many wonderful scenes, including a crowd stopping a train, that really capture the feeling of the chaos, panic, and dirt of war.
Robert Donat is marvelous, elegant of voice, sometimes a character actor and sometimes, with a wavy lock of hair on his forehead and kissing Dietrich, a very effective romantic leading man.
Very exciting film, and you really care about these characters. Highly recommended.
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