Cast & Crew
In April, 1915, Captain Franck of German Intelligence crashes his plane in Warsaw and is rescued by fellow Germans. During his recovery in the hospital, he falls in love with his nurse, Maria, and marries her when he is released, unaware that she is a Russian spy. Franck is assigned to get the notorious Russian spy Sulkin and his confederate, who is known only as B-24. He sets to work with the help of Schultz and Captain Weber, who raid a flower shop that Maria has been using to send messages. The owner, Pahlke, admits to them that B-24 is female. When the errand boy brings Weber and Schultz a handkerchief belonging to Maria that he found in the shop, they realize she is implicated, but decide not to tell Franck until they are sure. Maria joins Franck, Weber and Schultz at the Marabu Café, and is shocked to see that one of the performers is her own brother Karl. Sulkin is also there, and after Maria secretly notifies him that Weber has keys to a cabinet at the Intelligence Office, Sulkin implements his plan to get a wax impression of the keys. Weber discovers the ruse and is shot by Baum, Sulkin's henchman. Baum is captured, and Maria decides to return to Russia. She confides in Karl, asking him to relay the information to Franck, whom she truly loves, but Sulkin overhears them and kills Karl just as police arrive. When Franck learns of Maria's true identity, he vows revenge, and goes undercover to Russia. At the same time, Maria vows vengeance against Franck, whom she believes killed Karl. At a ball, Maria identifies Franck and has him arrested, but upon hearing the truth, she helps him escape, an act for which she is court-martialed and sentenced to death. The Russian General is told to evacuate Warsaw and chaos ensues. Maria is released but obtains a gun from a prison guard, intending to kill herself. As she stands near a window, Franck comes into the cell, and they embrace.
A. S. Byron
Anders Van Haden
Edward Peil Sr.
Albert J. Smith
Fay Wray (1907-2004)
She was born Vina Fay Wray, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada on September 15, 1907. Her family relocated to Arizona when she was still a toddler so her father could find employment. When her parents divorced, her mother sent her to Hollywood when Fay's eldest sister died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. The reasoning was that Southern California offered a healthier climate for the young, frail Wray.
She attended Hollywood High School, where she took some classes in drama. After she graduated, she applied to the Hal Roach studio and was given a six-month contract where she appeared in two-reel Westerns (25 minutes in length), and played opposite Stan Laurel in his pre-Oliver Hardy days.
She landed her first big role, as Mitzi Schrammell, in Erich von Stroheim's beautifully mounted silent The Wedding March (1928). It made Wray a star. She then starred in some excellent films: The Four Feathers (1929), the early Gary Cooper Western The Texan (1930), and one of Ronald Coleman's first starring roles The Unholy Garden (1931), all of which were big hits of the day.
For whatever reason, Wray soon found herself in a string of thrillers that made her one of the great screamers in Hollywood history. The titles say it all: Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game (both 1932), Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Bat (both 1933) and, of course her most famous role, that of Ann Darrow, who tempts cinema's most famous ape in the unforgettable King Kong (also 1933).
Wray did prove herself quite capable in genre outside of the horror game, the best of which were Shanghai Madness with Spencer Tracy; The Bowery (both 1933), a tough pre-Hays Code drama opposite George Raft; and the brutal Viva Villa (1934), with Wallace Beery about the famed Mexican bandit. Yet curiously, the quality of her scripts began to tank, and she eventually found herself acting in such mediocre fare as Come Out of the Pantry (1935), and They Met in a Taxi (1936).
With her roles becoming increasingly routine, the last of which was the forgettable comedy Not a Ladies Man (1942), she decided to trade acting for domesticity and married Robert Riskin, who won two Best Screenplay Oscars® for the Frank Capra comedies It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). When Riskin died in 1955, Wray found herself working to keep busy and support her three children. She landed supporting parts for films like The Cobweb (1955), Hell on Frisco Bay (1956) and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957). She also found work in television on such popular programs as Perry Mason and Wagon Train before she retired from acting all together in the mid-'60s.
To her credit, Wray did remain reasonably active after her retirement. She published her autobiography, On The Other Hand in 1989 and was attending many film festivals that honored her contribution to film, most notably in January 2003, when, at 95 years of age, she accepted in person her "Legend in Film" Award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Wray is survived by a son, Robert Riskin Jr.; two daughters, Susan and Victoria; and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Fay Wray (1907-2004)
In 1932, Universal co-produced with Tobis Films of Germany Unter falscher Flagge. The screenplay, which was based on Kimmich's novel, was written by Johannes Brandt, Josef Than and Max Kimmich, and the film was directed by Johannes Meyer and starred Charlotte Susa and Gustav Fröhlich.