A glamorous figure in history, which places him in the 13th century as the first European to visit the Orient, Marco Polo has been portrayed in as many different guises as imagination permits; as traveler, adventurer, merchant, diplomat. He probably was all of these and a first-class liar besides. Robert E. Sherwood, who penned the screenscript [from a story by N.A. Pogson], conceives him also as an ardent lover and politician. Gary Cooper fits the character to the apex of his six feet two.
The plot is strictly meller, starting with Ahmed (Basil Rathbone) as a conniving prime minister to the Chinese ruler, Kublai Kahn (George Barbier). Schemer has his eye on the throne and a desire for the dynastic princess for his queen. Into such a vortex of beauty and villainy come Marco Polo and his business agent.
Marco Polo is admitted to the court and there glimpses the beautiful princess, who is much taken with his six feet two and easy manner of love-making behind the Chinese fountain.
It is all played on the dead level by a fine cast. Rathbone is an excellent plotter, and Sigrid Gurie, a Norwegian actress who makes her American film debut in the picture, possesses beauty of a kind to start civil war in any country.