A labored effort to keep this picture neutral on the subject of the Russian Revolution finally completely overshadows the simple love story intertwining Marlene Dietrich and Robert Donat.
Film is not a standout because Frances Marion’s adaptation, for one thing, has lost a great deal of James Hilton’s characterization in the original novel and dispensed almost entirely with the economic and physical-privation angles leading up to the revolution. Result is that only those familiar with the pre-1917 Russia will understand what the shootin’s all about.
Story reveals Donat as a young British secret service agent who becomes a Red to achieve his purpose. He’s sent to Siberia just before the outbreak of the World War and returns after the revolution as an assistant commissar. He rescues Dietrich’s countess from execution.
Performances on the whole are good, though Dietrich restricts herself to just looking glamorous in any setting or costume. Donat handles himself with restraint and capability. There’s only one other important cast assignment, John Clements as a hyper-sensitive commissar.