On the eve of World War II (1939) English officer Ralph Denistoun is in Nazi Germany on an espionage mission to recover a poison gas formula from Prof. Krosigk. He is helped by Lydia and ... See full summary »
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Josef von Sternberg
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On the eve of World War II (1939) English officer Ralph Denistoun is in Nazi Germany on an espionage mission to recover a poison gas formula from Prof. Krosigk. He is helped by Lydia and her band of gypsies. Naturally romance develops along the way. Written by
Don Femia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
In the climax where Lydia is escaping though the wilderness from the Nazis, in some shots she is seen wearing high heels and at other times appears in bare feet. See more »
Those reviewers who have complained that this movie lacks plausibility or has problems of construction are missing the point. This is a wonderfully camp romance, with plenty of Play, gypsies! Dance, gypsies! music, that both sends up exotic love stories and celebrates them. Buttoned-up Ray Milland makes an amusing foil for a Dietrich with black hair, tattered scarves, and tons of jewelry. The character's eagerness to feed Milland and look after him more closely resembles the good German hausfrau Dietrich was off the set than her mannered vamp roles. Censorship being in force, it's made clear that they share a caravan on platonic terms only, with Milland fighting off Dietrich's advances with a determination remarkable for a heterosexual bachelor who might be killed any day. His only excuse is that she smells, so perhaps a stuffy, fastidious Englishman might indeed be put off.
In the small role of Milland's young companion on his secret mission, Bruce Lester adds a note of camp of a different kind. We are told at the beginning that he hero-worships Milland, and indeed he rather fawns on him. When, after they are separated, he meets Milland, now transformed into a brown-skinned gypsy with a shirt open to the waist, his glowing appreciation of the disguise even further suggests that not only Dietrich is romantically infatuated with Milland.
Despite the wonderfully improbable characters and sequence of events, the growing love of Milland for Dietrich and his acceptance of the non-rational aspects of life is rather touching. And when, on their last night alone before he escapes, he says that each of them now contain half of the other, the two have become one, and then darkness falls, I think we can assume that the censor decided to give them a break! One goof--at the beginning, Milland, who is supposed to be English, refers to a lieutenant, using the American pronunciation. (The English say "leftenant.") Since Milland was British, he must have been saying it that way because the American movie-makers feared that American audiences would be distracted and confused by the British style.
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