In 1806 a French officer, Andre Duvalier, loses his regiment and collapses on a beach in northern Germany (actually Prussia, because at that time Germany was a geographical area, not the name of a country). He is helped by a mysterious young woman, Helene. After falling unconscious again he wakes up in the house of an old peasant woman who denies that any young women live in the vicinity. The only other building is the castle of Baron von Leppe, so Andre goes to the castle in search of Helene. The baron also insists that there is no Helene, but the portrait of the baron's wife who died in 1782 looks uncannily like Helene. Andre remains to solve the mystery.
This is a great film with excellent performances by Jack Nicholson as Andre and Boris Karloff as Baron Von Leppe. The over-dramatic music and the dark gothic castle capture the atmosphere of the 1930's horror films. Why don't they make films like this any more? This is a real horror film. On the other hand, the plot twist at the end of the film is unnecessary. The classic horror films had simple plots, they didn't need surprises.
The version of the film that I have on DVD is very poor quality. In many scenes the picture fades and the colours swim. I've read that a remastered version was released in 2011. That would be worth seeing.
The friendly reception of a French soldier in Germany seems difficult to accept. In 1806 France was waging war against Prussia. This led to the French army taking Berlin in October 1806. I can't imagine that any Germans, noblemen or peasants, would have welcomed an officer of an invading army as a guest.
|World Map 1806|
Green: France (and allies)
Blue: Prussia (and allies)