Sunday, September 2, 2012

British Agent

Risibly ham-fisted account of British meddling in the Russian Revolution, to keep the Reds in alliance against Germany. Based with cavalier abandon on the memoirs of Bruce Lockhart, Howard is the pathologically self-deprecating consul-general left behind to uphold Britain’s interests, in the company of an ill-explained coterie of other Allied representatives, including Italian Romero and French Reed. Unfortunately for all concerned, he falls for dedicated party secretary Kay Francis, declaring blithely that she shouldn’t let political opinions come between them. Her account of her awakening to communism is actually quite moving, unintentionally so one would assume (she’s not an actual peasant, just very sorry for them), but the political lines are so childishly drawn and the affair so bloodless, and repeatedly betrayed, that neither plays. Curtiz brings on death with startling abruptness, but elsewhere the laughable clunkiness of script, direction and political acuity are all that save the film from being downright offensive.

d Michael Curtiz sc Laird Doyle ph Ernest Haller ed Thomas Richards ad Anton Grot m Leo F. Forbstein cast Leslie Howard, Kay Francis, William Gargan, Philip Reed, Irving Pichel, Ivan F. Simpson, Halliwell Hobbes, J. Carrol Naish, Cesar Romero
(1934, GB, 80m, b/w)
posted by tom newth at

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