After Tonight (1933): George Archainbaud’s Pre-Code WWI Spy Melodrama, Starring Constance Bennett

George Archainbaud directed this moderately engaging Pre-Code WWI spy thriller, designed as a star vehicle for Constance Bennett.

The tale begins (and then ends) at a train station, where a young, mysterious woman (Bennett) is unable to purchase a ticket from Luxembourg to Austria.

Meeting Rudolph “Rudy” Ritter (Gilbert Roland,he offers to get her aboard a train to Bern, Switzerland. Later, when the train is stopped, she slips away while Rudy look for a car.

Rudy, a captain in the Austrian Ministry of War, is assigned to deal with Russian spies, particularly K-14. He gets a lead when a secret message is intercepted, containing information about newly improved flamethrower. Rudy is assigned to Major Lieber (Edward Ellis), the man who developed the weapon.

Rudy is delighted when Lieber introduces him to nurse Karen Schöntag, his former traveling companion. They fall in love, though Rudy doesn’t know that Karen is actually K-14.

She narrowly escapes before getting caught by Rudy and his men, who interrogate her. Rudy refuses to believe she is a spy, but Major Lieber notices something odd about a books she had; one page is torn out.

Rudy sets a trap, asking Russian-speaking Private Muller to go to K-14’s hospital masquerading as a war prisoner. Muller gives K-14 the Russian recognition signal (two circles) and passes her a message, ordering her to meet an agent at a deserted house that night.

After she incriminates herself to “Russian” agent Lehan (Mischa Auer), Rudy  arrests her, but K-14’s associate shoots him. Lehan drags K-14 away from the wounded Rudy, who urges her to flee.

After the war ends, the two meet by chance at a Swiss train station, but this time around, Rudy doesn’t let her get away.

Critical response was mixed, but After Tonight proved to be a box-office failure, and the studio unfairly blamed Bennett, who actually gives a decent performance.