As title implies, action is laid in Russia, with Clark Gable, a love-’em-and-leave-’em, elbow-bending American reporter cutting a wide swath as a carefree Lothario and outwitter of the censors in coding stories through to the outside. Gable hits a hurdle in maintaining his secret when simple-minded Felix Bressart, hotel porter, threatens exposure of the reporter’s true identity unless Gable gets Bressart’s daughter out of the country immediately.
Seems the girl, although a rabid Communist, is slated to be liquidated by the Kremlin. Matter-of-fact agreement of the girl to the plan, with ritual of typical Russian marriage ceremony and her quick breakdown under Gable’s embraces, sets the stage for a continual series of laugh situations before the pair finally get out of the country.
Picture [from a screen story by Walter Reisch] resembles Garbo’s Ninotchka only in that it again directs well-aimed shafts of humor at Communist actions and preachments, for plenty of rousing humor.
Gable provides a strong characterization of the ever-resourceful American newspaperman. Hedy Lamarr is handed her strongest role and demonstrates she can be more than decorative by a good display of both deadpan comedy and romantic antics. Natasha Lytess shines as a Russian secretary. Hair-pulling battle between latter and Lamarr over Gable’s affections is a honey.
1940: Nomination: Best Original Story