In one of his funniest films, Sternberg cast Dietrich as an Austrian spy and reinvented World War I as a masquerade. Espionage is merely an excuse for Dietrich's intrepid Agent X-27 to attend a brilliantly choreographed ball in giant feathered helmet and metallic mini-cape, fly off to the front in a taut leather jumpsuit accompanied by her black pussycat, or pose as a pasty, thick-waisted Russian maid enveloping the enemy in her voluminous skirts. As the Marlenes multiply, X-27's adversary and lover Victor McLaglen expresses the net effect: “the more you cheat and the more you lie, the more exciting you become.” In the end, not surprisingly, Sternberg and Dietrich declare allegiance to sex rather than state. Sentenced to execution, ex-hooker X-27 asks to face the firing squad wearing the uniform “in which I served my countrymen, not my country.” She died with her stockings on.

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