Cast & Crew
William Cameron Menzies
An officer with orders from Tcheka, the Russian secret police, stops a train in search of Anita Mellikovna. Anita is traveling with a forged passport and has obtained jewels which her father, who escaped from Russia in 1922, hid. Seeing Deene Maxwell, whom she met one summer in Scotland, on a train across the tracks, Anita climbs out of her train and enters his compartment. Deene, a British official enroute to Moscow on a trade mission, suggests they pose as husband and wife as he has diplomatic immunity. In Moscow, after they are threateningly followed, Deene, who fell in love with Anita in Scotland, offers to marry her at the British Embassy with the understanding that they will get an annulment after they leave Russia. After the wedding, Anita reveals that she is already married; when she studied music in Paris five years earlier, she married an eccentric, violent composer, Louis Capristi, whom she left on their wedding night after he threatened her. Unknown to Anita, Capristi, under the name Charles Pringle, has been locked up in an English asylum for the criminally insane since he strangled a woman to death. In England, Deene and Anita, having fallen in love, are confronted by Capristi, who escaped after he read in the news about their marriage. Capristi threatens to have them arrested for bigamy unless he is allowed to stay a few days until his boat for South America sails. Deene's friend, Scotland Yard Inspector Slante, becomes suspicious of Capristi's odd mannerisms and posts guards to watch him. When Capristi ditches the watchmen, Slante becomes convinced he is a crook. One rainy evening, a detective looking for Pringle follows Capristi to a French restaurant in Soho. After a French girl, Mariette, recognizes Capristi as Pringle, he escorts her to her nearby room where he confesses his identity and strangles her. Disguising his voice, Capristi calls Deene and convinces him to meet Slante at Mariette's apartment. Capristi then goes to Deene and Anita's home and, after killing their butler Jenkins, tries to strangle Anita, but she eludes his grasp. Deene returns just as Capristi has cornered Anita on a ledge. After he shoots Capristi, Anita worries about a scandal, but Slante keeps Capristi's identity hidden and identifies the body as Pringle's, and thus the bigamy charge remains undisclosed.
Gustav Von Seyffertitz
J. E. Gardner
W. W. Lindsay Jr.
William Cameron Menzies
The running time was given variously by different magazines and newspapers as 67 minutes (Film Daily), 50 minutes (Variety) and 51 minutes (Motion Picture Herald).
As the opening credits were missing from the print viewed, the onscreen credits listed above were taken from a screen billing sheet in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library. The working titles of this film were Circumstance and Circumstances. It appears that portions of the film were remade after the initial shooting period of 26 October-November 18, 1931. Information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, and in their legal records credit only Wallace Smith with the adaptation and dialogue, William Cameron Menzies with the direction and John Mescall with photography in documents dated in October and November 1931. Production charts during the initial shooting period also credit only Menzies as the director. The film was previewed in Hollywood in mid-December and reviewed at that time by Motion Picture Herald, which listed its release date as January 17, 1932. An outline of a proposed first sequence, dated December 16, 1931, in the Produced Scripts Collection, is by Guy Bolton, as is a treatment dated December 18, 1931. The credits on a "Final Script" with revisions, dated March 3, 1932, list Smith with adaptation and dialogue and Bolton with revisions; a "Second Run" dated March 17, 1932, contains the same credits. The screen credits give Smith and Bolton co-credit for the screenplay, Menzies and Marcel Varnel co-credit for the direction, George Schneiderman and Mescall co-credit for the photography, and W. W. Lindsay, Jr. and Eugene Grossman co-credit for the sound recording. It thus seems likely that some scenes were reshot or added in March 1932, which were written by Bolton, directed by Varnel (or perhaps Menzies and Varnel), photographed by Schneiderman and recorded by Grossman. Reviews and the Fox trade paper advertising billing sheets only credit William Cameron Menzies as director, Wallace Smith for screenplay, John Mescall for photography and W. W. Lindsay, Jr. for sound recording. Variety notes that this was Menzies' debut as a director; however, he was co-director on two films made in 1931, Always Goodbye and The Spider (see below). In the Final Shooting Script, dated October 23, 1931, Ralph Dietrich is credited as film editor, and Paul Cavanagh with the role of Deene Maxwell. While Cavanagh was not in the film, it is not known whether Dietrich actually worked on the production. Gustav von Seyffertitz is not listed in any reviews or in the Final Shooting Script of October 23, 1931, so it is likely that his role was added for the new material. Film Daily lists the running time as 67 minutes while Variety and Motion Picture Herald list it as 50 and 51 minutes, respectively. Variety erroneously states that the film is a remake of a 1919 Metro film; there was a 1919 film made by Metro with the same title, but it was a comedy and its plot bears no resemblance to that of this film.