Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Espionage (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

ESPIONAGE (1937) is an entertaining suspense film released on DVD earlier this year by the Warner Archive.

The movie stars the appealing team of Edmund Lowe and Madge Evans as Kenneth Stevens and Patricia Booth, who don't realize they're rival reporters each chasing the same story. They "meet cute" on a train, where for various reasons they pose as husband and wife upon first connecting.

The plot, as the couple track a munitions magnate (Paul Lukas) through war-torn Europe, really doesn't matter too much, and perhaps it even gets a bit silly towards the end, as they're wrongly suspected of attempting to assassinate the man they're following; the key is in the genuine fun which Lowe and Evans seem to be having.

There's a significant age gap between the actors but the viewer doesn't feel it as Lowe and Evans have such nice chemistry, trading quips and having fun with various improbable situations. When they declare how much they like each other on short acquaintance, the viewer believes them. They're a pair of likeable actors who are quite engaging here.

I always love a good "train" movie, and happily much of this brisk 67-minute film takes place in that setting. The movie would make a great double bill with another good Lowe train film, SEVEN SINNERS (1936) costarring Constance Cummings. (SEVEN SINNERS was also known as DOOMED CARGO.)

What fun to have Lukas, soon to appear in Hitchcock's classic train film THE LADY VANISHES (1938), on board!

Although it's more innocuous, an extended sequence with a cake and an odd man on the train also made me think of the train sequence early in Fritz Lang's MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944).

The nice cast includes an uncredited Ann Rutherford as a train passenger sighing happily over the "newlyweds." Also on hand: Leonid Kinskey, Billy Gilbert, Frank Reicher, Barnett Parker, Skeets Gallagher, and Mitchell Lewis.

ESPIONAGE was directed by Kurt Neumann. It was filmed in black and white by Ray June.

The Warner Archive DVD is a good print; there are occasionally light speckles or other flaws but all in all it's very nice, with a strong soundtrack. There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger barrylane said...

I just ran this -- and enjoyable does not cover my reaction. Terrific fun, mostly due to Edmund Lowe, but Madge Evans is adorable, and Paull Lukas sparkles, not a word that would normally apply to his on screen persona. In any case, a good way to spend some time with a congenial group.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm delighted to know you enjoyed this movie so well, and I hope your comments will help encourage others to give this fun film a try.

Best wishes,

3:56 PM  

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