Based on an intriguing 1932 autobiography of R.H. Bruce Lockhart, who worked for the British Secret Service during the tumultuous days of the Russian Revolution in 1917. British-Hungarian actor Leslie Howard plays British agent Locke, whose main task is to prevent the Bolsheviks, led by Stalin, from signing a separate treaty with the Germans, embroiled in a war on two fronts. By chance Locke meets Elena, Lenin's attractive secretary and also a spy (played by the feisty Kay Francis) on the night of the first revolution, and they are both instantly smitten. Michael Curtiz (born Manó Kaminer in Austro-Hungarian Budapest) wastes no time however on romantic shenanigans. Instead, his direction is balanced and fast-paced, presenting a suspenseful political drama that portrays convincingly the life of spies during times of historical upheaval. Quite unusually, British Agent shows an understanding of the ideologies on both sides. (International Film Festival Rotterdam)