Le Joueur d'Echecs (1939)

Genres - Drama  |   Run Time - 70 min.  |   Countries - France  |  
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In one of his last European film appearances, Conrad Veidt heads the cast of Le Joueur D'Echecs (The Checker Player). Set during the reign of Russia's Catherine the Great, the film recreates Poland's ongoing efforts to wrest free of Russian tyranny. Paul Cambo plays Polish patriot Bosleslas Vorosky, whose insurrection is aided by an eccentric Hungarian nobleman, Baron Kempelen (Conrad Veidt). Seemingly more interested in his various mechanical devices (including an automated checker player) than with human beings, Kempelen nonetheless proves to be the best friend the Poles could have, even sacrificing his own life for their cause. In the film's bizarre but historically accurate conclusion, the spiteful Catherine demands that Kempelen's beloved mechanical checker player be executed by firing squad (It makes sense within context--honest!)

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Keywords

chess, couple, emperor, escape, forbidden, henchman, hidden, inventor, love, love-conquers-all, lover, mechanic, rage, torture