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Robert Z. Leonard
February, 1917. Returning to the German front after a sybaritic leave in Moscow, Russian officer Nikita Krasnoff and his brigade are met by the first troop revolts. In the growing anarchy of the Revolution, Nikita finds himself isolated, and must make his risky way to Turkey in the unexpected company of his adoring (but virtuous) former servant Tanyusha. In Istanbul, Nikita and Tanyusha reach an understanding... but their happiness is threatened by the reappearance of Nikita's former mistress Vera, offering a false semblance of the old life.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The peasants are revolting...and so is this movie!
This movie has lots of action and little heart. Let's forget for a minute that it gets just about every aspect of the Russian Revolution wrong - after all we only have only under an hour here to tell our story. In fact, the czar abdicated after World War I proved a disaster for the country, and a provisional government tried to rule as a pseudo-democracy until the Leninists took power nine months later, mainly because they promised to immediately withdraw Russia from the war. Now, back to our story.
Here we have the revolution being "rumored" in Russian newspapers in what appears to still be a functioning country until violence erupts suddenly and upends the life of nobleman Baron Nikita 'Nikki' Krasnoff (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). He flees his home with his former servant girl Tanyusha (Nancy Carroll) in tow, and they start to make a new life in Constantinople. Before the revolution the Baron made a regular habit out of making a play for the girl, not out of any real passion, but out of boredom as a diversion of sorts. The revolution doesn't change this, and he continues to try to take advantage of what is obviously a very simple girl. It certainly doesn't make the audience like this guy to see him toying with her so. Tanyusha follows the Baron because she literally has no place to go after the revolutionaries take over the Baron's home, and she has known no other life other than waiting on Nikki hand and foot. Once in Constantinople, Nikki quickly wearies of life as a penniless laborer, and that is when he meets up with his former lover, Russian aristocrat Vera Zimina, who has a plan for getting them to Paris where the Tsarists have congregated after the revolution. Unfortunately for Tanyusha, Vera's plan does not include her.
This film manages to completely waste the considerable acting talents of early talkie actress Nancy Carroll. She does a good job with what little she is given to do, but that is not much. Lilyan Tashman is the standout here, even though she has only a small role as Russian vamp Vera. Lilyan was so often given supporting roles just as she is here, but her earthy voice and glamorous looks make her the center of attention in every scene in which she appears. Guy Kibbee even shows up in a humorous bit as an American tourist who is curious about the Russian royalty that has been forcefully ejected from their homeland.
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