Dark Journey Reviews
March 14, 2013
Rescued from the doldrums by the polished performances of Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt a strange pairing that really works.
October 29, 2008
leigh wears some nice costumes and conveys a shadowy mystery in her performance as a couturier than doubles in espionage.
September 25, 2010
It took me 3 viewings before I was finally able to sort out the plot details of DARK JOURNEY, a spy drama - which was one of actress Vivien Leigh's first starring roles. The story held my attention okay until about the half-way mark - when the plot became muddled by seemingly numerous spies and counter-spies and I just got very confused as to which spy was spying for whom. I know now the reason for my confusion:
just about everyone in this production - including most of the spies (no matter what nationality) - spoke with a British accent!
You may say - well, of course everyone spoke with a british accent - DARK JOURNEY is a BRITISH PRODUCTION - but therein lies the problem. Vivien Leigh plays a Swiss national but speaks with a British accent. The actors portraying Germans mostly spoke with a British accent. The French and the Swede characters spoke with British accents. No wonder I was having a hard time trying to figure out which country a spy held allegiance to. They ALL sounded BRITISH and after reading other viewer's comments on this film, I'll say I'm not the only one confused by the plot.
But once I figured out that the trick to watching this is to IGNORE the British accent - well, the plot became much more coherent and the motivations behind the character's actions made a lot more sense.
With that said, think DARK JOURNEY is a rather nifty World War I spy drama. But the filmmakers were not satisfied with making just a spy drama because it's a spy drama disguised as a romance or maybe, a romance disguised as a spy drama - take your pick. I think the spy drama angle works rather well - but not so the romance part - which seemed a bit of a stretch.
It is Spring Time 1918 (so says the opening caption) and Madeleine Goddard (Vivien Leigh) is onboard a passenger liner departed from Paris and traveling to Stockholm, Sweden. The liner is stopped and boarded by the crew of a German U-boat. The Germans inspect the liner for contraband material and suspicious passengers - arresting anyone they suspect as spies or escapees. The Germans question Madeleine but are satisfied that she is just traveling on business. Madeleine's suitcases are full of the latest Paris fashions destined for her exclusive couture shop in Stockholm.
Once in Stockholm?we see the REAL reason behind Madeleline's importation of the dresses.
Incorporated within the design (or patterns of the fabric) of the dresses are coded messages - planned French troop movements. The messages are decoded and relayed to? Berlin headquarters!
But who is Madeleiene really working for?
The Germans send their spies to Stockholm to investigate?and so do the British.
Who is spying for whom?
While at a Stockholm nightclub, the pretty Madeleine attracts the eye of a wealthy German playboy - the Baron Karl Von Marwitz (Conrad Veidt). Despite having a Brazilian bombshell of a girlfriend (Joan Gardner) at his side - the Baron only has eyes for Madeleine. As I mentioned, I feel this is the film's weakest aspect. I just didn't feel much chemistry between Leigh and Veidt.
On the other hand, Conrad Veidt and the aforementioned Joan Gardner share one of the sexiest looking kisses I've seen from a 30's film. You don't actually see the kiss itself because the scene is shot behind Veidt's head. You do see Gardner's arms wrap around Veidt's neck, though?and the effect is very sexy indeed.
This one is certainly worth a watch?for the pre-GONE WITH THE WIND Vivien Leigh and the pre-CASABLANCA Conrad Veidt?but mind what I said about the accents!
January 4, 2011
Dark Journey is an interesting film. The production design and costumes are outstanding. Conrad Veidt and Vivien Leigh give magnificent performances. The script blends adventure and romance. It is a scenario which makes order from wartime chaos and faith from despair. Victor Saville did a superb job directing this movie. I enjoyed this motion picture because of the drama. Dark Journey is a must see.