The Unbeliever

Watch The Unbeliever

  • NR
  • 1918
  • 1 hr 20 min
  • 6.0  (144)

The Unbeliever is a romance drama film from 1918 directed by Alan Crosland. The film is set in Vienna during World War I, where American journalist John Cotton (played by Raymond McKee) arrives while covering the conflict. He meets and falls in love with Countess Olga Mironova (played by Marguerite Courtot), a Russian aristocrat who is serving as a nurse in a military hospital.

While trying to win Olga's heart, John becomes involved in a complex web of espionage and political intrigue. He discovers that Olga's brother, Count Michael Mironova (played by Erich von Stroheim), is a high-ranking officer in the Austrian army who is secretly working as a spy for the Russian government. John must navigate these dangerous waters while also facing opposition from Olga's other suitors, including the devious Baron von Gaigern (played by Nigel De Brulier).

The film is a showcase of the talents of director Alan Crosland, who would go on to direct the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, a decade later. The Unbeliever is notable for its lavish production values, including detailed sets that recreate the opulent Viennese society of the time. The film also features exquisite costume design, with Marguerite Courtot wearing a series of stunning outfits that make her every bit the elegant countess.

Raymond McKee gives a solid performance as John Cotton, a charismatic and dashing reporter who is determined to get his story while also winning Olga's heart. McKee would go on to become a popular leading man in silent films, appearing in over 120 films before his career came to an end in the 1940s.

Marguerite Courtot is equally impressive as Olga, a woman torn between loyalty to her brother and her growing feelings for John. Courtot was a rising star of the silent era, appearing in over 40 films before her untimely death at the age of 31.

But perhaps the most memorable performance in the film comes from Erich von Stroheim as Count Michael Mironova. Von Stroheim was already a well-known actor and director at the time of The Unbeliever, having directed and starred in the controversial films Blind Husbands and Greed. In The Unbeliever, he brings a steely intensity to the role of the duplicitous count, making him a formidable villain who is always one step ahead of the heroes.

The Unbeliever is notable for its themes of love and duty in a time of war, as well as its depiction of espionage and political intrigue. The film was made at a time when the United States had not yet entered World War I, and it reflects a certain ambivalence towards the conflict. John Cotton is an American who is initially indifferent to the war, but he is forced to confront its harsh realities when he witnesses the toll it takes on the people of Vienna.

Overall, The Unbeliever is a well-crafted drama that combines romance, action, and suspense in equal measure. It is a fascinating glimpse into the high society of pre-World War I Vienna, as well as a reminder of the sacrifices made by countless individuals during the war itself. The film stands as a testament to the enduring power of cinema, even more than a century after its initial release.

The Unbeliever
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 20 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.0  (144)