Scarlet Dawn (1932)




Director:     .

Starring:     Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (Nikita Krasnoff), Nancy Carroll (Tanyusha), Lilyan Tashman (Vera Zimina), Guy Kibbee (Murphy), Sheila Terry (Marjorie).

Russian officer caught up in the troop revolts in WWI (includes a love story)



Spoiler Warning:

In the newspaper the headline is that Czar Nicholas denies Rumor of Revolution:  Will review royal guards to prove loyalty."

A telegraph arrives:  "First Brigade of the First Guard Cavalry Division has been ordered to Moscow for two weeks leave and replacements."  Signed by Major General Petrenko.  Dated February 18, 1917.

The soldiers are joking with each other as the train heads for Moscow.  They talk about women.  Nikita Krasnoff says that he's going to visit a real babe of a girl:  Vera Zimina.  One of the guys wonders if Moscow will be changed now with all this talk about revolution.  Nikita says no way. 

Nikita goes over to Vera's apartment and sneaks in.  Vera looks out of her bedroom door and sees Nikita.   It looks like she may have another man in her bedroom.  Nikita rushes over to her and gives her a passionate kiss.  They now go out with other soldiers and their dates and enjoy some terrific Russian music and dance. 

Nikita is still sleeping  He has a note displayed saying do not disturb him unless they are sure he's awake.  A pretty woman named Tanyusha comes in with the morning coffee.  Nikita asks her what time is it and she tells him its 5 o'clock.  Nikita says that's too early for him to get up, but suddenly he realizes that it's 5 o'clock in the afternoon.  He tells Tanyusha to come over to his bedside.  She comes over  and he pulls her down onto the bed.  She must think he is going to have sex with her, because she asks him not to.  He tells her to get out if she's going to be that way, she should just get out.

A telephone call comes from Vera.  It's Nikita's last day of leave and Vera wants him to drop by and kiss her.  Nikita says he can't because he's so busy packing and has to go shortly.  She tells him that it won't take him long to kiss her.  She says she will be waiting for him. 

The newspaper headline is:  Communists Stage Demonstration Despite Czar's Denial of Revolutionary Rumors. 

Nikita does go over to see Vera.  And she gives him a ride down to his train.  All of a sudden the soldiers revolt amid the disorder of the Communist Riots in Moscow.  Nikita finds himself shooting at his own men as they revolt.  People run for cover amidst the blast of machine guns.  A truck filled with soldiers and sailors, as well as others, breaks through two road blocks.  The men on the trunk are shooting in various directions.  From a cellar of a building, Nikita fires his pistol at them.  The truck stops and the men pile out to go get the someone who has been shooting at them.

One man comes into the cellar and Nikita jumps him from behind.  The truck driver bulldozes his truck right through a garage door and the shooting really heats up.  The communists come into the cellar.  Nikita has already killed the first man and now is dressed in the man's clothes.  He tells the next Communists that he killed this officer named Nikita Krasnoff.  He also mentions that he did some work for this Krasnoff for about a year and never got paid.  So the Communists say for him to tell to the commissar and he will write down his claim.  The problem is that the commissar wants Krasnoff to show him his identification.  Krasnoff has none and tells the commissar to drop the claim.  The commissar will not.  He tells two of his men to go with this man and get somebody to identify him so he can get his claim.  If no one can identify him, then bring him back to the commissar. 

Krasnoff takes the soldiers to the place where he was staying.  The soldiers see Tanyusha stick her head out the door of one of the apartments.  One soldier rushes up to her door to see if she can identify this man without identification.  Tanyusha says yes she has seen this man before here in the hotel.  In fact, she sees him everyday.  The guards are satisfied with that, but now ask where are the valuables kept in the hotel?   Krasnoff will lead them to the valuables.  The men find the jewels and stick them in their pockets.  Krasnoff grabs a very bejeweled knife and case. 

Krasnoff is now free to go where he pleases.  Tanyusha says she's going with him.  He tells her to go back, but when he starts walking away, she follows right behind him. 

The two try to get through a check point, but the guard says he will need to see a passport.  Then two men drive up in a car and the guard tends to them.  Krasnoff and the young woman sneak into the back of the car when the guard tells the two men to get out of the car and come with him for a moment.  When the two men get back into the car Krasnoff jumps up from the back and starts bargaining with them:  some jewels for a ride to the border.  The bidding begins. 

The car is headed to the border with Turkey.  Half way there the two in the back seat fall asleep and the rich man in the front grabs the bejeweled knife and forces the two in the back out of the car.  Now the car drives on without the back passengers.  In a short distance the car bursts through a gate at a check point.  The soldiers start firing at the car with their rifles and one machine gun.  The driver is hit and the car falls off a high cliff.  It's lucky that the two men threw Krasnoff and Tanyusha out of the car. 

So now the couple has to start on a very long walk.  Tanyusha gives out and Krassnoff has to lighten her load somewhat.  At night they make a fire and have something to eat.  Nikita asks her why did she come with him?  She says Nikita was always the Baron to her.  He was the boss and she and her whole family worked for him. She never knew anything else and she wanted to go with Nikita to wherever he's going.  He kisses Tanyusha, but she doesn't want that.  So Nikita will have to be patient with her. 

In the early morning, the couple has to hide as four men on horseback come searching through the area. 

Constantinople, Turkey.  They get a room in the city.  The next day Nikita comes back with a white dress for Tanyusha.  He asks her if she has heard the latest news?  She says, no.  He tells her the news is that they are getting married today.  He has to repeat himself.  Tanyusha doesn't object so they go down to a church.  The priest tells them that they have to have witnesses.  So Nikita goes in search of two witnesses.  The first person he grabs is a Muslim and he won't go into the church.  So he has to go get two Christians.  He grabs two westerners, one a woman and one a man, and takes them down to the church.  The two marry. 

Nikita finds work as a dish washer.  He's very worn-out at the end of the day.  He talks to his wife for awhile, but soon dozes off.

Now Nikita has worked his way up to be a bus boy at the restaurant.  And who should he run into?  Oh, no one, except Vera Zimina herself.  She waits for his shift to end and then she has him get into her chauffeur-driven car.  She takes him to an upscale coffer house so they can talk.  Nikita says he feels like he doesn't belong in a joint this good.  She says his clothes are not the greatest, but his face still is.  She wants him to play the role of the arrogant Russian prince all dressed up.  This will impress the wealthy women tourists who come to Constantinople.  She says this way, she can help Nikita, and Nikita can help her.  She adds that in a couple of months the two of them could be living in Paris. 

Back home, Nikita tells his wife that he is going away for awhile  He met an old friend and now he will be able to live among the wealthy again.  Furthermore, he will be able to send a lot of money every week to Tanyusha.  Tanyusha doesn't like Vera, but she will not say so.  She helps him gets into his best clothes.  He tells her good-bye and be happy.  He starts to leave.  He stops at the bottom of the stairs and calls out her name.  She starts to go to him, but she is ill and faints to the floor.  Since she doesn't come to him, he leaves. 

The papers talk about the new arrivals at Constantinople hotels.  And there waiting for the new arrivals is the con-artist team of Nikita and Vera.  Going horse back riding, Vera rides with the father and Nikita rides with the pretty daughter.  It's all in a day's work. 

Velma comes into Nikita's room to show him the fake Krasnoff pearls that they are going to sell Mr. Murphy and his daughter at the price of the real Krasnoff pearls.  After Velma leaves, Nikita writes a letter to Tanyusha.  The mail is delivered but the evil landlady opens up the letter, takes the money out and then throws the letter and envelope into the trash. 

Nikita dances with Marjorie at a very formal ball.  Murphy asks Velma to dance with him and she tells him later.  So Murphy goes and dances with his daughter.  This gives Velma and Nikita a chance to compare notes.  Velma asks him if he has brought up the subject of the pearls with Marjorie?  Nikita says no and he wonders if he even wants to try to sell the pearls to the Murphys.  Velma shows him a notice that any Russians without gainful employment in Turkey will be sent home.  That's why they have to sell those pearls tonight and then go to Paris.  All Nikita can think about, however, is Tanyusha who would certainly be forced out of Turkey and back to Russia. 

Nikita takes the pearls from Velma.  He shows them to Marjorie who is very impressed.  He starts to sell them to Marjorie, but suddenly grabs the pearls from her and throws them away.  He says he's little more than a swindler and she has been so very nice to him.  Marjorie is crushed.  Nikita walks away from her.  He then tells Velma that he can't sell the pearls. 

Nikita rushes over to his old apartment, but there is no sign of Tanyusha.  He goes to a city hospital and asks for his wife.  A doctor there says she left the hospital about a week ago.  The doctor doesn't know where she went.  So Nikita rushes over to the landlord and demands that he tell him where his wife went.  He bangs on the door and makes so much noise that the police grab him.  They realize he's a Russian so will have him deported on one of five ships. 

Tanyusha is being forced aboard one of the ships and so is Tanyusha.  She sees Nikita and yells out to him. Then she drops down to her knees.  Nikita fights his way through the crowd and grabs onto his wife.  He kisses her many times.  He picks her up and carries her onto the boat. 


Good love story set within the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917.  Nikita Krassnoff was from a wealthy family but after the Revolution everything is taken away from him.  He decides it's not safe for him to stay in Russia, so he decides to head to Turkey.  His pretty, female servant decides to go with him, in spite of his saying that she can't follow him.  It's not an easy journey out of Russia.  They run into several very difficult situations, but they make it to Constantinople.  There they suffer very hard times as they have to work at very low-paying jobs such as dish washing.  Despite the terrible times, Nikita marries his former servant Tanyusha.  Nikita runs into a female con-artist who recruits Nikita into helping her with her cons jobs on wealthy American and European wealthy people.  This means that Nikita is away from his wife for long periods of time.  And, unbeknownst to Nikita, Tanyusha has health problems.  Will Nikta continue with a life of crime or will he finally tire of this way of life and go back to his loyal wife?  Politics once again intervenes and again they are swept up in changes beyond their own control. 

The acting was good all-around.  Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (as Nikita Krasnoff) was especially good 

It's a short film of only an hour in length. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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