Friday, November 11, 2016


In a Luxembourg train station at the outbreak of World War I, a lovely nightclub singer (Constance Bennett) is trying desperately to get a train to Vienna, but with hundreds of tourists also eager to get out, she's having problems. Dashing German soldier Gilbert Roland gets her passage with him on a train and they seem to hit it off, but she leaves at the first stop and he's mystified. Roland is on the lookout for the spies that are leaking German plans to the Russians, but he doesn’t realize that he's just let a successful spy slip through his fingers. We see Bennett traipsing across Austria smuggling information out via messages sewn in coats and written in invisible ink in books. Eventually she is reunited with Roland and later, when she seems to be caught red-handed, Roland, blinded by his love, lets her go, but soon his sense of duty gets the best of him and her sets her up to be caught for good this time. This is a well-made spy thriller that nevertheless doesn't rise above average. It seems very mechanical, like a script written to certain specifications. The spy details are fun, but nothing very exciting happens until the end, and even there the action feels perfunctory. I'm not a big fan of Constance Bennett; she always seems to be a little bored or just not altogether present, and that's pretty much how she is here. Roland is better but there's no real chemistry at work between the two. The ending is almost comical. For fans of Bennett or of the genre. [TCM]

I'm heading off on the final Turner Classic Movies cruise so this blog will go dark for about a bit, but I'll be back before Thanksgiving!

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