20 April 2004 | bullybyte
Superb Camerawork and Superb Acting
This is based on the stage play of the same name by Noel Coward.
Nadya is the widowed princess of the fictitious ruritanian kingdom of Krayia. She has been unhappy with her late husband, so she travels to Paris. There she falls in love with a young writer. But word soon comes that the King of Krayia has died. She is now queen. She travels back to Krayia, but the young writer follows her. Hears about an assassination attempt, and manages to stop it. Queen Nadya is not allowed to marry the writer because she is royalty and he is a commoner. As thanks for saving her life, she invites him to dinner - one last night. There is a twist ending which is quite sad. The film talks about lovers being trapped between love and duty, a theme which turns up again and again in Coward's works.
It has been suggested that the film, being silent, lacks the sharp dialogue of Noel Coward. But the film does have redeeming features. Firstly the camerawork under Graham Cutts's direction, is wonderful. In about ten seconds spinning scenes suggest the brutality and turmoil of Princess Nadya's marriage. The other feature is the acting ability of Lili Damita. Cutts tests her to the full. But she is at her best when she suggests allure in the close up, her eyes, dark as sloes, figuratively melting everything in her field of vision.
This film came out as the talkies were coming in. It was hacked about by the censors. It should be a lot better known than it is.