DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DARK JOURNEY (director: Victor Saville; screenwriters: from the play by Lajos Biró/Lajos Biró/Arthur Wimperis; cinematographers: Georges Périnal/Harry Stradling, Sr.; editor: Hugh Stewart; music: Richard Addinsell; cast: Conrad Veidt (Baron Karl Von Marwitz), Vivien Leigh (Madeleine Goddard), Joan Gardner (Lupita), Anthony Bushell (Bob Carter), Phil Ray (Faber), Ursula Jeans (Gertrude), Margery Pickard (Colette), Eliot Makeham (Anatole Bergen), Austin Trevor (Dr. Muller); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating:NR; producers: Victor Saville/Alexander Korda; United Artists; 1938-UK)

 
"Rescued from the doldrums by the polished performances of Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Victor Saville ("Kim"/"The Silver Chalice"/"Calling Bulldog Drummond") directs this unconvincing and muddled WW I romantic spy drama, that's nevertheless quite entertaining. The story line is so confusing it is hard to say where its sympathies lie. Is it anti-war? Pro-German? Pro-French? Pro-British? In any case, it goes out of the way to show the Germans as regular people and not monsters, just serving their country like the French and English. The director brings his usual blandness and filmmaking competency to this sophisticated talkative spy story among high society types, that's rescued from the doldrums by the polished performances of Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt. This was Leigh's first leading role after a small part in Fire Over England (1937), and she's luminous. GWTW and her Oscar-winning part as Scarlett O'Hara is two years away. It's based on the play by Lajos Biró, and is written by Biró and Arthur Wimperis.

It's set in the spring of 1918, in Stockholm. Swiss-born upscale dress-shop owner for the last three years, Madeleine Goddard (Vivien Leigh), has been traveling back and forth between Paris and Stockholm to buy dresses and spy for the Germans. But she feeds the German spy ring in Stockholm misleading info, as she's really French born and a French agent. The weary Madeleine is asked to perform one more mission before returning for good to France, as she's asked to find out who is the new German secret service section 8 leader stationed in Stockholm after the Germans shake up things when they realize they're getting bogus intel. It turns out to be the ice cold womanizer Baron Karl Von Marwitz (Conrad Veidt, one of his few leading roles), who Madeleine dates and she falls in love with him (something not possible to believe, but their dates are at least funny camp).

Their spy romance ends with a dark journey by boat to safety by Madeleine, when to save her life from the German secret service after she's unmasked as a double agent the one-armed British agent Bob Carter (Anthony Bushell) gets her deported as a French spy and springs a trap to nab the Baron.

REVIEWED ON 9/30/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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