Congress Dances (1932)
An Austrian prince hatches a plan to keep his rival, the Russian czar, busy by keeping him surrounded by beautiful women and away from the negotiating table. The Czar, however, has his own plan--he hires a man who is his exact double to impersonate him and confuse the Austrians by appearing to be everywhere at once. In addition, both the Czar and his double fall for the same woman.
- This is the english-language version of "Der Kongress Tanzt" which was filmed simultaneously in french and german. Lilian Harvey stars in all three films and Henri Garat partners her in the french and english versions.
The story concerns the Congress in Vienna of 1814 that was assembled to determine the fate of Napoleon after his exile to Elba. Metternich of Austria (Conrad Veidt) is determined to settle the fate of the emperor by himself and arranges for the assembled heads of state to be caught up with more pleasant diversions while he seals the vote. His biggest opponent will be the Czar of Russia (Henri Garat) and Metternich is determined to keep him away from the congress by any means.
The Czar's processional arrival through the streets of Vienna helps Metternich's plan. An enterprising glove maker, Christel Weinzinger (Lilian Harvey),throws a bouquet of flowers containing an advertisement for her shop into the Czar's carriage. It is mistakenly thought initially to be a bomb and she is arrested. When told how lovely the young girl is, the Czar goes in person to bail the young woman out of jail and they spend the evening on the town and falling in love.
The next day, while Christel is trying to convince her co-workers that she spent an evening with the Czar, an emissary arrives and takes her in her own new carriage through the streets of Vienna to her new villa, which the Czar has purchased for her. This scene contains the famous long outdoor shots of the open carriage with Harvey singing "Just Once For All Time" (becoming a german standard as "Das Gibt's Nur Einmal").
Meanwhile Metternich is trying desperately to cook up ways to divert the Czar from the business of Napoleon. He does not realize that the Czar has brought along his very own look-alike (also Garat) to represent him at all of Metternich's various ploys. The real Czar, seeing Metternich's plan, keeps attendance at the congress and soon forgets about Christel.
When finally Christel is able to garner an invitation to a charity ball in hopes of reuniting with the Czar, she does not realize that it is his look-alike who is selling kisses for 100 ducats. But when the real Czar-who is amusedly watching the discomfort of his doppelganger from a distant gallery-spies Christel in line, he immediately has the double dismissed and rushes to claim Christel for the grand waltz.
By now word reaches the ballroom that Napoleon has escaped Elba and the congress is rendered superfluous. The Czar must depart immediately for Russia and Christel is left sad that her once in a lifetime love has gone.
Lilian Harvey is terrific as Christel in this version as well. It is interesting to hear her speaking her native tongue ---but oddly, now and then a little german emphasis seems to come through in her pronunciation.