One of six films that Austrian-born Josef von Sternberg made with German star Marlene Dietrich in Hollywood, marking one of the most legendary partnerships in cinema history. Like Garbo's Mata Hari released in the same year, this atmospheric pre-Code romantic spy thriller was loosely based on the popular story of the sultry Dutch double agent. Dietrich plays a young widow turned streetwalker who is recruited to spy on the Russians for Austria during WWI.

Adopting code name X-27, Dietrich’s heroine devotes her gifts for seduction to the patriotic cause, until she finds a worthy adversary in Russian colonel Kranau (Victor McLaglen), who draws her into a fatal game of cat and mouse and tests the strength of her loyalties. Re-imagining his native Vienna with customary extravagance, Von Sternberg stages this story of spycraft as a captivating masquerade in which no one is who they seem and death is only a wrong note away.

Director
Josef von Sternberg
Country of production
USA
Production Year
1931
Festival Edition
IFFR 2019
Length
91'
Medium
35mm
Language
English
Production Companies
Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Sales
Park Circus Limited
Screenplay
Daniel N. Rubin, Josef von Sternberg
Cinematography
Lee Garmes
Editor
Josef von Sternberg
Sound Design
Harry D. Mills
Music
Karl Hajos, Herman Hand, Henry Binstok, Josef von Sternberg
Cast
Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Warner Oland, Lew Cody, Barry Norton, Max Barwyn