For Reel

After Tonight (1933)
June 30, 2012, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Archainbaud

As Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo did before her in Dishonored and Mata Hari respectively, Constance Bennett was cast as a spy who falls in love with her enemy in George Archainbaud’s After Tonight. Her on-screen lover and future husband is Gilbert Roland, equally miscast as an Austrian agent. Bennett is fit for the part while her character is undercover – she inhabits a number of standby roles given to women at the time, including work as a singer, a nurse, and a seamstress. As the sophisticated veteran spy, however, she never quite excels despite a number of tedious scenes in which she writes in invisible ink and smuggles books to-and-fro. The highlight of the picture is a cabaret rendition of Val Burton & Will Jason’s “Buy a Kiss” that Bennett performs in a sleek black dress. Mordaunt Hall, critic for the New York Times, was cold on the picture at its release despite acknowledging some of its escapist pleasures, calling it a “synthetic conception of espionage and contra espionage […] but even so, it is quite welcome after the plethora of gangster yarns and those persistent backstage chronicles.”

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