Moscow Nights is a triumph for director Anthony Asquith in that you are actually transported to Russia in 1916, and no book could give you a more vivid spectacle of things as they existed at that time. Not once is it deemed necessary to resort to comedy relief. It is really and truly a triumph of film direction.
Plot is conventional enough, but it is the atmosphere in which it is disclosed. A handsome young Russian officer (Laurence Olivier) is carried into a hospital in a delirious condition from war wounds. Upon regaining consciousness he discovers a celestial-looking Red Cross nurse in the person of Penelope Dudley-Ward, and falls hard. She is, however, engaged to a middle-aged war profiteer who pays off the mortgage on her parents’ home. The profiteer boasts he was born a peasant and is still a peasant. Part is played by Harry Baur, a Continental actor, who brings to the role a dominance that always falls short of being repellent.
Laurence Olivier has looks, charm and acting ability. This is his first big opportunity, and he takes advantage of it to the full.
The supporting cast is of a very high order, notably Athene Seyler, Kate Cutler, Morton Selten and Hay Petrie.