Operator 13 (1933): Boleslavsky’s Political Melodrama, Starring Marion Davies and Gary Cooper

In Richard Boleslavsky’s absurdly plotted political melodrama, Marion Davies gets top billing as Gail Loveless, an actress during the Civil War urged by Allan Pinkerton to become a Union spy.

 

Disguised as a servant, she accompanies the noted spy Pauline Cushman into Confederate lines.  Pauline becomes a guest in the Dandridge mansion, headquarters of Confederate General “Jeb” Stuart, while Gail is employed as the officers’ housekeeper. 

 

Upon meeting Captain Jack Gailliard (Gary Cooper), a scout on the General’s staff, Gail falls for him.  When Pauline’s espionage activities are uncovered and she is sentenced to death, Gailliard helps Gail escape to Northern lines.

 

Later on, Gailliard is organizing Southern sympathizers in the North and Gail masquerades as a Southern belle under the name Ann Claibourne, at the Shackleford mansion in Richmond.  When Gailliard meets her this time, he falls in love with her.  However, both place their duties first, and Gail sends her secret information, though it spells grief for those around her.

 

High political melodrama continues, when Gail is discovered and flees with another Union spy, disguised as a groom.  When Gailliard catches up with the pair, the groom wants to kill him but Gail handcuffs herself to him.  The Union column approaches their hideout in a springhouse, and the groom, still dressed in Confederate clothes, is killed.   In the end, at a blacksmith shop, Gailliard files off the cuffs and heads back for Confederate lines.

 

Cast:

 

Marion Davies (Gail Loveless)

Gary Cooper (Captain Jack Gailliard)

Jean Parker (Eleanor)

Katharine Alexander (Pauline)

Ted Healy (Doctor Hitchcock)

Russell Hardie (Littledale)

Henry Wadsworth (John Pelham)

Douglass Dumbrille (General Stuart)

Willard Robertson (Captain Channing)

Fuzzy Knight (Sweeney)

Sidney Toler (Major Allen)

Robert McWade (Colonel Sharpe)

Marjorie Gateson (Mrs. Shackleford)

Wade Boteler (Gaston)

Walter Long (Operator 55)

Hattie McDaniel (Cook)

Francis McDonald (Denton)

 

Credits:

 

A Cosmopolitan Production.

A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture.

Director: Richard Boleslavsky.

Producer: Lucien Hubbard.

Scenarists: Harry Thew, Zelda Sears, Eve Greene.

Photographer: George Falsey.

Art Director: Cedric Gibbons.

Associate Art Directors: Arnold Gillespie, Edwin B. Willis.

Costumer: Adrian.

Editor: Frank Sullivan.

Musical Score: Dr. William Axt.