“So our pretty little dressmaker is a spy!”
During World War One, a French seamstress (Vivien Leigh) working as a spy in Sweden falls in love with a German spy (Conrad Veidt) pretending to be a deserter.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Conrad Veidt Films
- Play Adaptations
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Vivien Leigh Films
- World War One
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary labels this early Vivien Leigh film — based on a play by Lajos Biró — “pretty confusing” but “classy and romantic”. He argues that we “don’t mind Leigh falling for a German spy in pre-Nazi days”, calls out 22-year-old Leigh’s “lovely”, “smart, delicate performance”, and notes that this film provides one with an opportunity to see “Veidt in a role that contributed to his romantic-idol reputation — before he became a villain in Hollywood”. (To be honest, I wasn’t aware he ever possessed such a reputation.) Unfortunately, while Leigh is indeed truly “lovely” here, the label “pretty confusing” doesn’t begin to do justice to the film’s needlessly opaque screenplay, which even Leigh herself professed to not completely understand. And while Leigh and Veidt do possess a surprising amount of chemistry together, not nearly enough is made of their tentative forbidden romance.
Most likely Peary includes this title in his book simply because it’s one of Leigh’s all-too-rare screen roles (and her first leading role) — but it’s not must-see for all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vivien Leigh as Madeleine
No — though fans of Leigh will doubtless want to check it out. Easily available for viewing online, given that it’s fallen into public domain.