In this drama of the émigrés during the French Revolution, Fritz Kortner and Goesta Ekman share the acting laurels. Herr Ekman figures as a Republican Colonel and Herr Kortner impersonates Montaloup, the Commissary of the Committee of Public Safety.
All the characters are especially well delineated. Montaloup, brutal and vulgar, sends a man “to the wall” while he (Montaloup) has his mouth full of food. Prosper, an old servant who is not afraid to speak his mind to his mistress, is caught with his foot covering a white cockade, and it is Montaloup’s opinion that there is no need for any hearting, just a bullet or so.
The glimpses of the lovely chateaux and the countryside look as if some of the “shots” had been made in France. The costumes are well attended to, the soldiers appearing as if they had worn their uniforms many a month.
A. W. Sandberg, director of this subject, does not delay matters with symbolism or contrasts, but he goes ahead with the story and uses his imagination. For instance, during a scene of a crowd around the guillotine, while tumbrels are being emptied to feed the knife, Herr Sandbergturns to a flash of a woman knitting, raising her eyes now and again to look at the executioner’s next victim.
Herr Sandberg paints the émigré dandy in his true colors. Chivalry and courage fall to the lot of Colonel Marc-Arron of the Revolutionary Army. He is a handsome fellow is this Marc-Arron (Herr Ekman), the opposite of the villainous Montaloup. Then there is the attractive Countess Alaine de l’Estoile and her still more attractive Maid, Leontine, who on one occasion plays the part of the Countess while the Countess masquerades as the maid.
Somebody had set his heart on the Countess wedding the magnificently clad Marquis de Tressailles. She consents, but it is evident that she is not in love with him. She is, one gleans early in the story, somewhat interested in Marc-Arron, in spite of the fact that he is a Revolutionist.
The day of the aristocrat’s marriage, Montaloupand others, including the Colonel, arrive with a host of striped-trousered soldiers whose hair, like Montaloups, hangs thick and dirty on their necks and cheeks. The Marquis tries to escape. But he is brought back, and Montaloup, after interrogating the countess and the Marquis, announces that the Marquis is “pardoned”. The newly wed couple breathe a sigh of relief, but an instant later Montaloup reopens the door, sticks in his ugly face and says: “Pardoned – that is until 6 tomorrow morning.” He is punctilious about carrying out his word in matters of executions!
Marc-Arron eventually comes to the rescue, knowing the consequences, and Montaloup, who has no little admiration for the Colonel, now, for the first time, cannot find it in his heart to give the signal for the squad to fire on his friend, Marc-Arron. That gallant officer, however, again takes the initiative, and thus the Countess loses both a lover and a husband.
New York Times, 27.1.1930