Literary adaptations are a dangerous thing. Fortunately, the action takes place in 1918, then 1911.
A drama needs a strong photography, here provided by the great Eugene Schuftan, uncredited because he was not an union member
(Archie Stout not a cinematographer to forget is credited. Now we need a good transfer and VCI is usually to be trusted.
SIRK had escaped the indignity of such shooting titles as STRANGE CONFESSION and GOODBYE MY LOVE.
This is really his film, he wrote the dialogue, with twin credit under the pseudonym of MICHAEL O'HARA, but we are not in a classroom and must forget about the other films because that early (12/1943-1/1944) second US film stands on its own legs.
In 1918, Kharkov, an impoverished aristocrat, EDWARD EVERETT HORTON, tries to have a manuscript published by the newspaper now owned by
ANNA LEE,and confesses that the manuscript was written by GEORGE SANDERS seven years earlier.
Back to 1911 SANDERS, local magistrate, engaged to LEE, desires the ambitious LINDA DARNELL, equally loved by the rich HORTON. DARNELL is soon murdered, after some romantic interludes.
CHARLES HAAS ,overseer of HORTON's estate is sent to Siberia.
And the murderer is: I won't tell you. LEE reads it and takes measures.
It's a brilliantly written and directed drama. Not a flamboyant melodrama which would be inappropriate and would weaken he characters.It only lacks more money.
DARNELL and SANDERS are very good.
We are still waiting for the 3 great SIRK pictures: SHOCKPROOF (Columbia), THE FIRST LEGION (U-A) and THUNDER ON THE HILL (Universal).
SIRK has become a dead idol (better than a living idol, nobody expects the French Inquisition) and it blurs the pleasure of his films.
Everything is now sacred: you can't put down any of his films without getting insulted.
He was a true professional who wouldn't have approved of that cultural fanaticism.