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British Agent


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Editorial Reviews

Michael Curtiz directs Kay Francis and Leslie Howard in this tale of romance and revolution in Russia. Touted at the time of its release as most expensive picture yet produced by the studio, Curtiz does not allow the sweep and spectacle to overwhelm the very human drama that lies at the heart of the film. It is 1917 and the Russian Revolution is sweeping the country. Elena (Francis) has dedicated her life to the Cause as personified by Lenin. But during a street riot her life is saved by Stephen Locke (Howard), an unofficial diplomatic agent for England. The two, although dedicated to opposing causes, fall for each other. But Elena learns that Locke is wanted by the secret police for his revolutionary activities and she is ordered to obtain evidence of Locke's scheming. She does so--although she knows this will condemn him to death. One of Kay Francis' greatest performances in film, aided by a string of character greats.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Leslie Howard, Kay Francis, William Gargan, Phillip Reed, Irving Pichel
  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: March 15, 2012
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007549X0C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,670 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By HAMLET on August 22, 2012
Format: DVD
Note: I saw this movie on television when Turner Classic Movies showed it.

This early film from director Michael Curtiz (who would later direct the swashbuckling adventure The Adventures Of Robin Hood and the classic drama Casablanca) stars Leslie Howard (who would become famous as The Scarlet Pimpernel a few years later and then play Ashley Wilkes in the classic Civil War romance-drama Gone With The Wind) and Kay Francis is very well acted and directed. I don't know if the film was shot in Russia, but the exteriors and interiors were very convicing...and the actors playing Russians spoke Russian very well; same thing goes for Mr. Howard. The drama is well-maintained and you never lose interest.

This film is Not Rated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Wardwell on February 21, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A 1934 film of spies in World War I behind enemy lines. Actors like Leslie Howard and Kay Francis bring great presence to this tale of intrigue. Michael Curtiz who made a ton of wonderful movies from 1912 to 1961 doesn't fail to bring action and suspense to a credible story.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. (Harry) Hernandez VINE VOICE on August 3, 2012
Format: DVD
BRITISH AGENT (Dir. Michael Curtiz which is pronounced "koor-TEES", 1934, 80 minutes) is handsome, winsome Leslie Howard at his best. He plays a British Embassy brass located in Petrograd, Russia (St. Petersburg) who falls in love with a Bolshevik terrorist, horribly acted by Kay Francis. This is based on the memoirs of the Baroness Moura Budberg, who was quite the writer and even acted in film once.

The year portrayed is 1917. Though I have no choice but to describe this film as 'political fantasy', I have no real comparison film except perhaps Doctor Zhivago - but I do not want to make that comparison. Trotsky and Lenin both appear here, and somewhat sympathetic as depicted. This film seemed to me like an actual propagandist Socialist film, which it probably was since it is the Baroness' work. Trotsky wants fairness and justice! Lenin wants peace and amnesty! That's all! Who said anything about brutal murders and a communist dictatorship?

The silly romance, of course, is overshadowed by a somewhat brilliant plot: British Embassy dude, now British Agent, remains in Russia to keep them from making a peace compact with Germany. Keep those Russkies fighting! - is the order from On High, England. Along with a Cuban (played by Cesar Romero), another dubious Latin-type, and an intrepid American soldier, our hero stays and does what he can.

As for me, sadly, I can't say this is to be avoided ... it has a few good points. The dialogue is snappy and Leslie Howard really shines here. He speaks very good Russian. The rest, I simply could not tolerate. There is even a Stalin-like creature and they have the audacity to show the British on extremely good terms with them all.

The only thing I really liked about the plot is the British Agent is really there to save the day!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By vjo on December 28, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie is one that will appeal to those who are interested in history. It takes place during the time of Lenin's rise to power in Russia, after the elimination of their monarchy, up to his assasination. The story is quite good and it gives a very good analysis of how Lenin and socialism/Communism took over. Leslie Howard is, as usual, terrific as the British agent and Kay Francis is lovely as the Leninist. It's worth watching.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tgn on December 22, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
great
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