Considering its only moderate success as a legit show [by Edward Hope, from the novel by Stanley J. Weyman] and that it may be automatically and erroneously tabbed as a costume production, Under the Red Robe turns out to be surprisingly fine entertainment.
Annabella photographs superbly, acts like a trouper of the first water, and only in her lightly intoned speeches is there any difficulty about understanding her English. Both in her love sequences and her dramatic moments, the comely French actress comes through with few flaws.
Direction never wastes a move, going directly to the point, holding proper suspense and mixing droll comedy with the exciting and dramatic moments.
Conrad Veidt, the ‘black death’ and chief undercover killer for Cardinal Richelieu (Raymond Massey), starts on his quest of corralling the elusive duke and rebel without delay. Once in the duke’s castle, he immediately starts weaving the romantic thread which eventually leads to the duke’s capture and the sudden termination of their love affair.
Annabella has plenty tough competition from Conrad Veidt for spotlight honors, because he turns in one of his most polished portrayals. Greatest test of his ability comes in his love scenes because the girl, sister of the duke, is obviously much younger than he, while his character is scarcely that of a Robert Taylor.