The Gay Diplomat

The Gay Diplomat is a 1931 American film. Directed by Richard Boleslawski for RKO Radio Pictures, it starred Ivan Lebedeff, Genevieve Tobin and Betty Compson.

The Gay Diplomat
Ivan Lebedeff.jpg
Ivan Lebedeff as Captain Orloff
Directed by
Produced by
Written byBenn W. Levy[1]
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyLeo Tover
Edited byArthur Roberts
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • August 22, 1931 (1931-08-22)[1]
Running time
67 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$131,000[2]


Captain Orloff (Ivan Lebedeff) is a Russian military officer who is sent to Bucharest to discover and dispose of a female spy. The three suspected spies are Countess Diana Dorchy (Genevieve Tobin), Baroness Alma Corri (Betty Compson) and Madame Blinis (Ilka Chase). Before learning the identity of the spy, Orloff falls in love with Diana. In the course of events, the spy is revealed to be Alma who is ultimately tricked into confessing. Orloff returns with his prisoner to St. Petersburg and is joined on the train by Diana.[1]



According to the trade journal Film Daily, RKO reported the original story "Strange Women" was written by Lebedeff and Benn W. Levy.[3] In addition to Strange Women, working titles included Woman Pursued and Kisses By Command.

Shooting took place in June 1931. Henry Hobart, the original production supervisor of Gay Diplomat, was so upset by the film's inadequacies and by Lebedeff's lack of star quality that he walked off the project. Pandro Berman replaced Hobart as supervising producer in mid-production, thus earning Berman his first screen credit.[1][4]

The picture was Lebedeff's first starring role and he figured heavily in RKO's marketing campaign, which touted him as another Valentino and portrayed the story as based on events from his life.[5][6] Tobin was borrowed from Universal to play the female lead.[1]


The film was released September 19, 1931. According to RKO records, the film was the studio's lowest grossing film of the 1930–31 season and lost $115,000 at the box office.[2]

The Gay Diplomat was generally poorly received by critics. New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall called it "highly predictable".[7] The Variety reviewer found the story incomprehensible and called the dialog "inane" and the acting "some of the poorest";[8] Film Daily, summed it up as "mechanical and slow moving ... with artificial treatment and acting".[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Gay Diplomat". Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved March 13, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c Richard Jewell (1994). "RKO Film Grosses, 1929–1951: the C.J. Tevlin Ledger". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 14 (1): 37–49. doi:10.1080/01439689400260031.
  3. ^ "RKO Buys Lebedeff-Levy Story". The Film Daily. LV (59): 11. March 12, 1931. Retrieved March 13, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Hal Erickson. "The Gay Diplomat". AllMovie. Retrieved December 13, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b "The Gay Diplomat". The Film Daily. LVI (46): 18. August 23, 1931. Retrieved March 13, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "A New Star Flashes". Motion Picture Herald. 104 (8): 51. August 22, 1931. Full page advertisement for Gay Diplomat.
  7. ^ Mordaunt Hall (October 10, 1931). "The Screen; An Artful Swindler. The Divorce Mill. Espionage and Romance". New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Gay Diplomat". Variety. 104 (5): 15. October 13, 1931. Retrieved March 13, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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