British Agent (1934)

81 mins | Adventure | 15 September 1934

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writer:

Laird Doyle

Cinematographer:

Ernest Haller

Editor:

Thomas Richards

Production Designer:

Anton Grot

Production Company:

First National Productions Corp.
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HISTORY

Contemporary reviews note that the story bears only a slight resemblance to the novel, which was based on R. H. Bruce Lockhart's own experiences in Russia. At the time of Dora Kaplan's attempt on Lenin's life, Lockhart was arrested as an accomplice and later exchanged for a Russian held by the British. A news item in FD notes that Pierre Collings was writing dialogue for the film. A press release notes that forty-one different sets were used, 1,500 people were in the cast, and 3,000 rounds of ammunition were fired in the riot scenes. Call Bureau Cast Service lists Corinne Williams as "Dora Kaplan" while the studio cast sheet credits Zosia Tanina. DV reported that Jack Warner had authorized negotiations between the studio and the Soviet government for permission to send in a film crew for location shots. If permission had been received, this would have been the first American film crew to work in Soviet territory. According to modern sources, Frank Borzage was originally scheduled to direct this ... More Less

Contemporary reviews note that the story bears only a slight resemblance to the novel, which was based on R. H. Bruce Lockhart's own experiences in Russia. At the time of Dora Kaplan's attempt on Lenin's life, Lockhart was arrested as an accomplice and later exchanged for a Russian held by the British. A news item in FD notes that Pierre Collings was writing dialogue for the film. A press release notes that forty-one different sets were used, 1,500 people were in the cast, and 3,000 rounds of ammunition were fired in the riot scenes. Call Bureau Cast Service lists Corinne Williams as "Dora Kaplan" while the studio cast sheet credits Zosia Tanina. DV reported that Jack Warner had authorized negotiations between the studio and the Soviet government for permission to send in a film crew for location shots. If permission had been received, this would have been the first American film crew to work in Soviet territory. According to modern sources, Frank Borzage was originally scheduled to direct this film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Jan 34
p. 7.
Daily Variety
23 Mar 34
p. 1.
Film Daily
2 Aug 34
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 34
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Jun 34
p. 21.
Motion Picture Daily
3 Aug 34
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
23 Jun 34
p. 107.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Aug 34
p. 31, 34
New York Times
20 Sep 34
p. 20.
Variety
25 Sep 34
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
British dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Vitaphone Orch cond
SOUND
Rec eng
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Chief elec
Chief grip
Props
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the novel British Agent by R. H. Bruce Lockhart (London, 1932).
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 September 1934
Production Date:
began 26 March 1934
Copyright Claimant:
First National Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 September 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4973
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
56
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Stephen Locke, a young British diplomat, argues that Great Britain must recognize the provisional government in order to prevent them from establishing a separate peace with the Germans, which would free German soldiers to face the remaining allies on the Western front. The night that the provisional government falls to Lenin's party, Stephen witnesses Elena Moura shoot a Cossack who is attacking a woman and her child. He helps her escape into the embassy and learns that she is a Communist. Most of the Allies close down their embassies, leaving behind only a token staff. Bored and frustrated by their inability to act, Stephen, LeFarge, the French representative, Tito Del Val, the Italian, and Bob Medill, the American, spend their days playing cards and their nights in a gypsy cafe. One night, Elena comes into the cafe and Stephen persuades her to leave with him. Although politically they are on opposite sides, they fall in love, but Elena's first loyalty is to her country, as she proves when she informs the Central Committee that Stephen is not Britain's official ambassador. Betrayed by the woman he loves, Stephen is also let down by his country, which once again ignores his advice. When the Czar is assassinated, the White army tries to reorganize and Stephen, LaFarge, Medill and Del Val come to their aid. An attempt is made against Lenin's life by Dora Kaplan, and the Russian secret police ask Elena to provide evidence of Stephen's counter-revolutionary actions. She agrees but when she learns that the Russians intend to explode the warehouse where Stephen is hiding, ... +


In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Stephen Locke, a young British diplomat, argues that Great Britain must recognize the provisional government in order to prevent them from establishing a separate peace with the Germans, which would free German soldiers to face the remaining allies on the Western front. The night that the provisional government falls to Lenin's party, Stephen witnesses Elena Moura shoot a Cossack who is attacking a woman and her child. He helps her escape into the embassy and learns that she is a Communist. Most of the Allies close down their embassies, leaving behind only a token staff. Bored and frustrated by their inability to act, Stephen, LeFarge, the French representative, Tito Del Val, the Italian, and Bob Medill, the American, spend their days playing cards and their nights in a gypsy cafe. One night, Elena comes into the cafe and Stephen persuades her to leave with him. Although politically they are on opposite sides, they fall in love, but Elena's first loyalty is to her country, as she proves when she informs the Central Committee that Stephen is not Britain's official ambassador. Betrayed by the woman he loves, Stephen is also let down by his country, which once again ignores his advice. When the Czar is assassinated, the White army tries to reorganize and Stephen, LaFarge, Medill and Del Val come to their aid. An attempt is made against Lenin's life by Dora Kaplan, and the Russian secret police ask Elena to provide evidence of Stephen's counter-revolutionary actions. She agrees but when she learns that the Russians intend to explode the warehouse where Stephen is hiding, she joins him there, intending to die with the man she loves. Just as the soldiers are about to kill them, Lenin recovers from his wounds and pardons all political prisoners. Elena and Stephen leave for England to start a new life together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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