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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Horning In On A Revolution


British Agent (1934) Is Russia, Romance, and Rebellion


Leslie Howard takes a notion to run things in Russia as its revolution boils over, till Red functionary Kay Francis intercedes on the Party's behalf. They play the eternal struggle between love and duty, as caught by Warner camera under direction of Michael Curtiz, with set designs by Anton Grot, so even where British Agent drags, there's plenty at least to look at. WB had ways of appearing more expensive than they were, British Agent at negative cost of $475K more like a million in terms of plush and crowded frames. Politics are sketched lightly and never an obstruction to romance. Hollywood had lately flirted with the Soviet experiment by way of planned projects that never came to fruition, for instance Frank Capra's MGM epic of the Red takeover which was scotched before lift-off. Many during our Great Depression wondered if Russians had the right idea, but movies weren't about to endorse five year plans, unless they came in terms of increasing profit. British Agent revolves around what its title implies: embassy man Leslie Howard trying to manipulate a war to his country's benefit, the Russians serving as background mob. Latter's leadership includes Irving Pichel and J. Carroll Naish, fanatics the both, but that's how movies portrayed most revolutionaries, save our own for American independence.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Caught this on TCM a while back. These 1930s movies about the USSR are always fascinating, like the satire "Clear All Wires!", where Lee Tracy plays (of course) a fast-talking American reporter in Moscow trying to score an interview with Stalin, only to get involved with a political dissident. None of these '30s movies are exactly anti-Communist, just nosing around the edges, trying to figure things out.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Filmfanman said...

Oh, this is off-topic, but I had to post this here:
Movie Poster From Karloff's ‘The Mummy’ Could Fetch $1.5 Million
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-11/movie-poster-from-karloff-s-the-mummy-could-fetch-1-5-million
Good article today, though.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

I wonder how much Stinky's poster for 'Kiss Me, Stupid' would fetch? Perhaps he could re-coup his six dollars.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Mikeymort said...

Coming from Texas, I would be more interested in the "Screen Souvenirs a Pictorial Record of San Antonio 1914-1915" featured at the bottom of the poster.

2:47 PM  

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