20 user 4 critic

Operator 13 (1934)

Passed | | Drama, History, Romance | 8 June 1934 (USA)
Union spy Gail Loveless impersonates a black maid in the early days of the Civil War, but complications arise when she falls in love with a Confederate officer.


Richard Boleslawski (as Richard Boleslavsky)


Harvey F. Thew (screen play) (as Harvey Thew), Zelda Sears (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marion Davies ... Gail Loveless
Gary Cooper ... Capt. Jack Gailliard
Jean Parker ... Eleanor Shackleford
Katharine Alexander ... Pauline
Ted Healy ... Dr. Hitchcock
Russell Hardie ... Lt. Gus Littledale
Henry Wadsworth ... John Pelham
Douglass Dumbrille ... Gen. Stuart (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Willard Robertson ... Capt. Channing
Fuzzy Knight ... Pvt. Sweeney
Sidney Toler ... Maj. Allen Pinkerton
Robert McWade ... Col. Sharpe
Marjorie Gateson ... Mrs. Shackleford
Wade Boteler ... Gaston
Walter Long ... Operator 55


Gail Loveless, a spy known as Operator 13 working for the Union and Federal cause during the Civil War, posing as a Confederate woman named Anne Claybourne, meets and falls in love with Confederate Captain Jack Galliard. Dusguised as an octoroom maid at a Confedarate military ball, she learns and relays secrets to the Union forces that are devastating to the Rebel cause. Assigned to the case to track down and kill the spy maid, Galliard learns she is also the woman he loves, but proceeds with his assignment. He captures her but is in danger of being captured himself as Federal forces are approaching. Gail/Anne saves him and they part to wait until peace comes to resume their romance. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 June 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spy 13 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film's initial television presentation took place in Philadelphia Friday 29 March 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6); in Chicago it first aired 27 April 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Seattle 29 July 1957 on KING (Channel 5), in Minneapolis 2 August 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), in Honolulu 9 August 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Portland OR 23 August 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Altoona PA 30 September 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Akron 7 November 1957 on WAKR (Channel 49), in Tampa 15 December 1957 on WFLA (Channel 8) and in Miami 8 January 1958 on WCKT (Channel 7); in San Francisco it was first telecast 11 March 1960 on KGO (Channel 7). Because of its age, obscurity, and certain pre-code aspects of its story, other major market telecasts eluded it at this time, but it's now in the Turner Classic Movies inventory and vintage film enthusiasts welcome its occasional airings on cable TV on TCM. See more »


Early in the film, the bugler is ordered to sound "Officers Call". He does so, and a distant bugler in the camp repeats the call. However, the second call is sounded in a much higher key. In reality, both bugles would play in the same key. See more »


Major Allen aka Allen Pinkerton: Operators 27 and 13 are not men.
'Doctor' Hitchcock: What are they, mules?
See more »


Featured in Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies (2001) See more »


I Wish I Was In Dixie's Land
(1860) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Played during the opening credits
Sung by marching confederate soldiers
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

Strange Is Just the Start
26 September 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Operator 13 (1934)

** (out of 4)

Extremely bizarre and rather choppy Civil War drama about actress Gail Loveless (Marion Davies) who goes to work as a spy for the Union. Once undercover, as a black maid, she begins to have feelings for a Confederate soldier (Gary Cooper). Once again Davies lover William Randolph Hearst put the money up for this production and half way through the making he had director Raoul Walsh fired even though he had made GOING Hollywood with Davies a year earlier. A new script was written and the rest is history but in the end this turned out to be one of the strangest dramas from this era. I might go even further and call the film a complete and utter embarrassment and a horrid excuse for entertainment but the thing is just so strange that you can't help but be entertained by it. The first thirty-minutes has Davies in some very bad blackface make up as she's undercover as a maid. Davies wasn't a newbie to blackface but the make up job here is so light skinned that you can't help but laugh at the thought that this make up job would be able to fool anyone in discussion with her and that includes Cooper's character. This is a drama yet Davies plays this maid role as some sort of comedy with the bad accent, which again doesn't sit well with what the film was going for. Not to mention that whoever was doing the make up forgot to paint her palms so they're constantly white. The second half of the film really doesn't get any better even though we do get a few battle scenes but none of them are all that interesting. Even worse are various musical sequences which come out of no where and will have you wondering if the Civil War was an actual war or just one big concert. Add in the bad direction and rather bland performances and you've got a movie that really needs to be rediscovered and held up as a cult classic. Even Cooper can't save this mess but he does add some charm to an otherwise crazy movie.

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