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A dark, brooding drama based on Chekhov's "The Shooting Party," this marked the first time the Russian's work had been adapted for the screen. Made for less than $400,000, it's a flashback to 1912, in pre-revolutionary Russia (where star Sanders was born). Darnell is a grasping peasant who
is determined to rise above her station. She uses her smoldering beauty and her feminine wiles to entice middle-aged farmer Haas to marry her. Her main reason is to flee her stern father. Haas knows full well he can't handle Darnell, so he looks the other way as she embarks on a series of affairs.
Sanders is a judge engaged to Lee. While vamping him, Darnell is also courting rich Horton, who plies her with jewels, gowns, and frippery. In the end, Darnell is murdered by Sanders, who--for her--has tossed away a promising career in law and the love of a good woman in Lee. Haas is arrested and
convicted for the crime and Sanders keeps mum about it, enlisting the aid of his maid, Lahner, who also maintains the secret. Finally, Sanders can't take the guilt anymore (it's 10 years later when he wakes up to that) and confesses that he is the killer. He tries to escape but is killed by the
cops. Excellent sets and costumes make this very realistic, and Sirk's European style of direction is perfect for the material, but with the heroine being a ruined and ruinous woman and all of the men being playthings for her, it's not easy to find anyone to like in the picture. A good movie that
sank. The film was one of 20 movies nominated for Best Score of a Drama or Comedy in 1944.