20 user 4 critic

Operator 13 (1934)

Passed | | Drama, History, Romance | 8 June 1934 (USA)
Union spy Gail Loveless impersonates a black maid in the early days of the Civil War, but complications arise when she falls in love with a Confederate officer.


Richard Boleslawski (as Richard Boleslavsky)


Harvey F. Thew (screen play) (as Harvey Thew), Zelda Sears (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Marion Davies ... Gail Loveless
Gary Cooper ... Capt. Jack Gailliard
Jean Parker ... Eleanor Shackleford
Katharine Alexander ... Pauline
Ted Healy ... Dr. Hitchcock
Russell Hardie ... Lt. Gus Littledale
Henry Wadsworth ... John Pelham
Douglass Dumbrille ... Gen. Stuart (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Willard Robertson ... Capt. Channing
Fuzzy Knight ... Pvt. Sweeney
Sidney Toler ... Maj. Allen Pinkerton
Robert McWade ... Col. Sharpe
Marjorie Gateson ... Mrs. Shackleford
Wade Boteler ... Gaston
Walter Long ... Operator 55
Learn more

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Gail Loveless, a spy known as Operator 13 working for the Union and Federal cause during the Civil War, posing as a Confederate woman named Anne Claybourne, meets and falls in love with Confederate Captain Jack Galliard. Dusguised as an octoroom maid at a Confedarate military ball, she learns and relays secrets to the Union forces that are devastating to the Rebel cause. Assigned to the case to track down and kill the spy maid, Galliard learns she is also the woman he loves, but proceeds with his assignment. He captures her but is in danger of being captured himself as Federal forces are approaching. Gail/Anne saves him and they part to wait until peace comes to resume their romance. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not since "Smilin' Through" such heart-stabbing romance! (Print Ad-Nepean Times, ((Penrith, NSW)) 10 November 1934)


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Harmonica player Larry Adler took offense when casting director Ben Piazza asked him to play Stephen Foster melodies off-screen in a scene involving a black child. The socially conscientious Adler felt it would further contribute to racial stereotyping. See more »


Early in the film, the bugler is ordered to sound "Officers Call". He does so, and a distant bugler in the camp repeats the call. However, the second call is sounded in a much higher key. In reality, both bugles would play in the same key. See more »


Major Allen aka Allen Pinkerton: Operators 27 and 13 are not men.
'Doctor' Hitchcock: What are they, mules?
See more »


Featured in Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies (2001) See more »


Roll, Jordan, Roll
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Performed by The Mills Brothers as part of the medicine show
See more »

User Reviews

Strange Is Just the Start
26 September 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Operator 13 (1934)

** (out of 4)

Extremely bizarre and rather choppy Civil War drama about actress Gail Loveless (Marion Davies) who goes to work as a spy for the Union. Once undercover, as a black maid, she begins to have feelings for a Confederate soldier (Gary Cooper). Once again Davies lover William Randolph Hearst put the money up for this production and half way through the making he had director Raoul Walsh fired even though he had made GOING Hollywood with Davies a year earlier. A new script was written and the rest is history but in the end this turned out to be one of the strangest dramas from this era. I might go even further and call the film a complete and utter embarrassment and a horrid excuse for entertainment but the thing is just so strange that you can't help but be entertained by it. The first thirty-minutes has Davies in some very bad blackface make up as she's undercover as a maid. Davies wasn't a newbie to blackface but the make up job here is so light skinned that you can't help but laugh at the thought that this make up job would be able to fool anyone in discussion with her and that includes Cooper's character. This is a drama yet Davies plays this maid role as some sort of comedy with the bad accent, which again doesn't sit well with what the film was going for. Not to mention that whoever was doing the make up forgot to paint her palms so they're constantly white. The second half of the film really doesn't get any better even though we do get a few battle scenes but none of them are all that interesting. Even worse are various musical sequences which come out of no where and will have you wondering if the Civil War was an actual war or just one big concert. Add in the bad direction and rather bland performances and you've got a movie that really needs to be rediscovered and held up as a cult classic. Even Cooper can't save this mess but he does add some charm to an otherwise crazy movie.

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Release Date:

8 June 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spy 13 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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