After Tonight (1933)

Genres - Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, War Romance, War Spy Film  |   Release Date - Oct 26, 1933 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 71 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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George Archainbaud was best known in later years for his westerns, but After Tonight shows a different side of his work, mixing romance and suspense (and some topical humor) effectively against the backdrop of the early days of the First World War. From the opening sequence, in which borders are being closed and trains diverted amid the outbreak of hostilities in August of 1914, the movie never quite lets us go -- the chemistry between Constance Bennett's Carla Vanirska and Gilbert Roland's Captain Rudolf Ritter is developed gradually and convincingly, a seemingly calm corner of a world thrown into chaos. The fact that each is hiding something significant from the other lends an intriguing twist to the early proceedings. Their relationship develops apace amid a harrowing and sometimes comical journey, in which frantic French and German travelers snipe at each other verbally, each trying to return to his homeland so they can take up arms against the other, and the Swiss -- the world's moneychangers -- suddenly announce that no paper currency is acceptable, only gold. The fact that these two people are on two overlapping collision courses, one personal and one professional, is plain from about the first 20 minutes of the movie, but the script offers enough twists to keep the suspense level high -- additionally, as this was a pre-code Hollywood production, there are several places where suggestive, if not outright racy dialogue, make it onto the screen in ways that would have been impossible a year later. After Tonight ends up a surprisingly rewarding movie, even 80 years after its release -- no classic, to be sure, but not a waste of anyone's 70 minutes, either.