“We Live Again,” released in 1934, stars Frederic March and Anna Sten as lovers from different social statuses. Prince Dmitri, a prince, is also an officer in the Czar’s army. Katusha, played by Anna Sten, plays a servant in his mother’s house. Katusha spends her days sowing seeds, milking cows and caring for piglets, but her fresh-faced beauty and innocent charm captures Dmitri’s heart. Although a prince, he believes in extreme socialist ideas, which his family blames on his youth.
Dmitri promises to write Katusha often when he joins the army, but instead falls into excessive carousing with his fellow officers and women. He drops his socialist ideas and forgets Katusha. However, after several years, he returns home, seduces Katusha and ruins her life. Later, when she’s falsely convicted of a crime and sent to Siberia, he vows to redeem himself and make it up to her. The story comes from a novel by Leo Tolstoy called “Resurrection,” published in 1899.
Although I watched this film because of my interest in Anna Sten, who was featured at this year’s Pordenone Silent Film Festival, I was surprised at the film’s pedigree. Rouben Mamoulian directed it, and Preston Sturges, Maxwell Anderson and Thornton Wilder worked on the screenplay. Gregg Toland provided cinematography, Omar Kiam provided the costume design, and Alfred Newman provided the music. That’s not a bad lineup, even though the film is not a masterpiece.