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According to the initial Variety review, this was the first picture set during the Russian Revolution to depict what actually occurred. The New York Times review notes that the James Hilton novel had been considerably abridged for the screen. According to a New York Times article, Hilton adapted his novel to the screen and enlarged the romantic interest so that Marlene Dietrich would play the female role. Contemporary sources indicate that production was delayed for two months because of the long illness of Robert Donat. According to modern sources, enormous time and expense were spent on authentic sets and costume. The resulting budget of $350,000 prevented the film from making a profit, and Korda was unable to pay Dietrich her full salary. The New York Times review commented on the smooth fusion of diverse international talents in the production: Englishmen Robert Donat and James Hilton, German Marlene Dietrich, Belgian Jacques Feyder, American Frances Marion, and Hungarian Alexander Korda. Modern sources include Assistant Director Adam Dawson; Assistant Editor Eric Hodges; and Sd tech M. M. Paggi in the production; and Lisa d'Esterre (Czarina) and Paul O'Brien in the cast.