Emperor’s Candlesticks, The: George Fitzmaurice’s Romantic Tale of Spies

George Fitzmaurice directed The Emperor’s Candlesticks, a tale of spies from opposing sides who fall in love in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Based on the novel of the same name by Baroness Orczy, the movie stars William Powell and Luise Rainer.

Visiting Vienna incognito, Russian Grand Duke Peter (Robert Young) is lured away from a masquerade ball by the beautiful Maria (Maureen O’Sullivan), only to find himself the prisoner of Polish nationalists. Peter is made to write a letter to his father, the Czar of Russia, offering to exchange him for Maria’s father, who’s about to be executed.

Since previous petitions for clemency were intercepted and never reached the Czar, the Poles asks secret agent Baron Stephan Wolensky (William Powell) to deliver the letter. Meanwhile, Colonel Pavloff (Frank Reicher), head of the Russian secret police, assigns his own agent, Countess Olga Mironova (Luise Rainer), to take to Russia documents incriminating Wolensky as an agent, along with an order for his arrest.

In the end, Pavloff arrests Miranova at her mansion St. Petersburg. When Wolensky shows up with her documents, she tosses them into the fireplace. Pavloff takes them to the Czar, who frees the loving couple.

This is one of the half dozen movies that Rainer made at MGM (and in her entire career).

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