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.