Monday, August 20, 2012

Communist Kay

1934's British Agent is our film this week. The wonderful Leslie Howard is Stephen Locke, an English diplomat serving in Russia as Lenin takes control of the government. The British, after the rise of Lenin, leave Locke as provisional staff, evacuating their more important diplomats (as do the French, Italian, and American governments).  Locke is committed to his country, and does the best he can under adverse circumstances.  He also meets and falls in love with Elena Moura (Kay Francis), a Communist working with Lenin's government.  Though she loves Stephen, she too loves her country and informs her government about Stephen's plan.

This is a fascinating film, with a great cast (and some wonderful supporting players, such as Cesar Romero as Tito Del Val the Italian provisional representative.  The film with keep you wondering just what is going to happen next, and Ms. Francis is wonderful as the conflicted Elena.  She and Howard are quite good together. though I believe this is the only time they appeared together on film (though they did the radio show Screen Guild Theatre together in 1939 (Never Of This World).

It's also interesting to see this somewhat sympathetic view of Lenin in 1939.  This surely is NOT a pro-Communist film, but, as you will see at the end, Lenin is vindicated. So, anti-Communist - perhaps, but with a bit of a balance.  Here's a trailer for this excellent movie: