A Russian courier struggles to deliver a message to the troops fighting Tartar invaders.A Russian courier struggles to deliver a message to the troops fighting Tartar invaders.A Russian courier struggles to deliver a message to the troops fighting Tartar invaders.
Walbrook who after he left Hollywood in this his one and only film shot in America makes an impressive and intrepid courier of the czar. The Empire of Alexander II is being threatened by a revolt among the Tartars who are mistakenly identified as Moslems. In their leadership is Akim Tamiroff a former Russian army officer cashiered in disgrace. He's looking for payback.
Tamiroff learns of Strogoff's mission and has his own Mata Hari Margot Grahame on Walbrook almost immediately. That's in a figurative sense in the future she'd get the James Bond treatment. There's also a good girl in the mix with Elizabeth Allan and soon enough both of them are under his charm.
Comic relief is supplied in the culture clash war correspondents Eric Blore of the London Times and Edward Brophy of the Cleveland Chronicle. And Fay Bainter plays Strogoff's tragic mother. Why tragic and how she fits into the story is for you to see the film.
The American version is fine. It might have been better if one of the bigger outfits like MGM, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, or Paramount had done the film. But this will whet your appetite to see the original French version. Years ago I saw a 1956 color version with Curt Jurgens in the title role, but it seems to have disappeared.
This one will do nicely though.
- Sep 19, 2015