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To calloused observers whose contacts with the French Talking films have been soured by themes of sentiment and artificiality, "Le Deuxieme Bureau," starting Thursday at the Institute of Geographical Exploration, will prove a genuine thriller, not by a little surpassing American pictures on the same subject.
Centered around the well-known theme of two spies of opposing governments who play the game of art and romance with passionate dexterity, the story avoids the pitfall of complicated actions and swings along easily from its melodramatic beginning to its gripping end.
Jean Murat, who plays the role of Captain Benoit, a French Secret Service agent, steals valuable German plans and is out for more when the Prussian staff puts pretty Erna Flieder (Vera Korene of the Comedie Francaise) on his trail. After getting what he wants by posing as a banker, he flees Germany with an innocent post-mistress whom he had beguiled in order to carry out his plan.
Hot on his heels, Erna seduces Colleret, an adjutant in the French Secret Service and is confirmed in her suspicions of Benoit. Unwittingly she falls in love with her prey only to find she has betrayed him to the German office. After heart-rending scenes in which both women vio to save their lover from tragedy, Benoit escapes the death trap. Erna is slain by her Prussian affiliate when captured, but Benoit and the post-mistress join hands unscathed.
By far the best performance is given by Pierre Larquey who impersonates the simpleton, Colleret. Vera Korene has the woodenness of an excellent sleuth, but is a poor vamp when it comes to making good use of sex appeal.
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