Secret service story [based on Ludwig Wolff’s novel War in the Dark] involving a Russian feminine spy and an Austrian officer. Using up 83 minutes to unload this yarn is ridiculous.
Productionally it is very nice. Court balls, hundreds of uniforms, big interiors and beneath the surface much intrigue. Tania (Greta Garbo) has engineered her way into the heart of Karl (Conrad Nagel) but he turns on her when his uncle says she’s a spy. For that Tania grabs some Austrian plans and Karl is court martialed and stripped of his uniform.
The secret service unc extracts him from prison so he can trail Tania to Warsaw. Posing as a musician, Karl finally finds his former sweetheart who gives evidence that he’s still aces with her by returning the plans a fellow Austrian officer has slipped Gen Alexandroff (Gustav von Seyffertitz), in pursuit of Tania for years. The general becomes so wise that Tania shoots him.
Inasmuch as the opening title includes that familiar phrase, ‘Vienna before the war’, little else need be said. Garbo has done and is capable of better work.