The source story by Anton Chekhov, 'The Shooting Party', is set in the 1840's, but director Douglas Sirk moved up the setting to the 1910s so the framing sequences at the beginning and the end would take place after the Russian Revolution. "With guys like [Fedor] and the Count going around, there had to be a revolution," Sirk explained. See more »
Count Volsky (Edward Everett Horton) submits a book to be published at the publishing house owned by a former acquaintance, Nadena (Anna Lee). It is an account of the life of his friend and Nadena's one-time boyfriend, Judge Fedor (George Sanders) and it takes place over the summer months. Nadeena reads the manuscript and the story unfolds in flashback as we are introduced to a peasant girl, Olga (Linda Darnell). We follow her journey to obtain wealth and power and the lovers that she cheats in order to obtain her goals. The account is written by Fedor and he does not know that his friend Volsky has sold it for money. How will he react....especially given the contents.....?
The film is set in Russia where there is a definite class split. We see Olga climb her way to the top at the expense of those who fall in love with her. Then, there is a dramatic twist - a murder. Who is the killer? The cast are good - Horton is funny, Sanders is both suave and desperate, Darnell is ruthless while Sig Ruman is particularly good as Kuzma, Darnell's husband. The film is a love story that is particularly tense and dramatic at the end. There is a terrible substitute for the word "lightning" that is repeated a few times in the film, an attempt to draw in the viewer to sympathize with those that utter it. It fails. If anyone said "heavenly electricity" to me, I'd tell them to talk properly. Nevertheless, it's a good film and worth seeing again.
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