In the 1860s, in the casino resort town of Wiesbaden, Germany, a reformed gambling addict, Pauline Ostrovsky, tenderly nurses the talented Russian writer Fedja, who is a physical wreck. A flashback reveals how his obsessive love for Pauline led to his ruination. Traveling on the Moscow to Paris train, Pauline gets seated in Fedja’s compartment and the handsome lad has the hots for this sharp looking aristocratic lady even though they don’t converse. Instead of going onto Paris, he gets off with her in Wiesbaden. Pauline stays at the casino with her gambling addicted father General Ostrovsky.
Fedja is turned off by gambling but decides to stay in Wiesbaden to write a novel about gamblers and see if he can make time with Pauline. He encounters the pathetic compulsive gambler and thief Aristide Pitard, a former math professor, who is loaned money by Fedja after the gambler stole his small bet on the roulette table and when instead of taking the train home returns to the casino and blowing a fortune, making bets only a crazy man would, Pitard blows his brains out.
After falling madly in love with the charming Pauline, Fedja learns the General has arranged Pauline’s marriage to Armand De Glasse, the casino’s heartless owner, in order to pay off his huge gambling debt to Armand. Thinking he can win Pauline back by getting the money her father owes, Fedja starts gambling. The foolish lovesick writer uses his life savings to stake his bets. Naturally, he loses and must borrow money from Armand to continue at the roulette table, and puts up his writings as security for the loan. —DVDverdict.com
Robert Siodmak was a German born American film director. He is best remembered as a thriller specialist and for the series of Hollywood film noirs he made in the 1940s.
Siodmak was born to a Polish Jewish family in Dresden, Germany (the myth of his American birth in Memphis, Tennessee was necessary for him to obtain a visa in Paris). He worked as a stage director and a banker before becoming editor and scenarist for Curtis Bernhardt in 1925. At twenty-six he was hired by his cousin, producer Seymour Nebenzal, to assemble original silent movies from the stock footage of old ones. Siodmak worked at this for two years before he persuaded Nebenzal to finance his first feature, the silent chef d’oeuvre, People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) (1929). The script was written by his younger brother Curt Siodmak, later the screenwriter of The Wolf Man (1941).
With the rise of Nazism he left Germany for Paris and then Hollywood. Siodmak arrived in Hollywood in 1939, where he made… read more
A dark melodrama that's overlong, talky, and very preachy. But with a surprisingly literate screenplay by Isherwood, it offers some fascinating character complexity that's much more than you'd expect from an old-fashioned Hollywood costume drama, helped along by Sidomak's taut direction and excellent black and white cinematography. Too uneven to really be a classic, but very interesting despite its flaws.