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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
Going Back In Time Turns Out To Be Time Well Spent
As usual, seeing this film via TCM or Turner Classic Movies was a most enjoyable experience. The subtext of "Knight ..." is that every known revolution is an entirely messy affair. Entirely.
The story is told in a rather straight-forward fashion and for most fans it will only augment their affection for, or resentment against, the female lead -- Marlene Dietrich. Like certain other stars of the cinema in the 1930s, she is always really just Marlene, take it or leave it alone. It works well in this mad adventure of a Russian Countess who awakes one morning to discover her world has crumbled.
The scene where she is confronted by a mob of revolutionaries, on her own beautifully manicured lawn, and without so much as one member of her staff there to speak up for her, is amazingly effective. It works and it works well in a fairly understated and yet unambiguous way.
Robert Donat, always one of my personal favorites, does yeoman's work.
He's the British secret agent who speaks Russian like a native and is clever enough to adapt to almost any situation. He is brilliant in this role ( and it is understood after the fact that Dietrich insisted that he not be replaced when he suffered a bad asthma attack as the production was just getting under way ).
All these decades later, those of us who are not so conversant with the historical basis of the Russian Revolution will probably be shocked by the casual slaughters that both the Reds, and the Whites indulged in.
There's much to recommend in this fine film and the Russian music that gets salted in here and there is tremendously emotional and workable.
Flat out, I really liked this rickety old movie and I could have used another fifteen minutes of Dietrich and Donat, no problem !! Eight of ten stars for the intrigue and this beguiling romance.
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