Three reporters and an office girl are trying to stop a bacteriological strike by some powerful western business leaders against the USSR.
Miss Mend, an action-packed adventure serial in three feature-length episodes, was produced in Russia with the goal of rivaling, and possibly even surpassing, the most entertaining American movies of the 1920s. It features beautiful location photography, impressive stunt scenes; horse, car and boat chases, radio towers, jazz bands and even a spectacular train wreck, interspersed with visual references to German film classics like Nosferatu, Caligari and Dr. Mabuse. The film’s heroine, Vivian Mend, is an elegant urban professional who earns her own living and raises a child without the help of any man. But the film, partially set in an imagined America where everything is new and progressive (from technology to social relations and lifestyles) also includes a few more-than-pointed comments on labor relations, racism, excessive wealth, gratuitous violence and even rape. Based upon a 1923 pulp novel allegedly written by an American, “Jim Dollar” (actually the nom-de-plume of a Russian woman, Marietta Shaginian), the film adaptation is directed by Fedor Ozep and Boris Barnet, each at the start of long and distinguished filmmaking careers. Although it responded to an official call for a new art that could win over mass audiences, Miss Mend was condemned by the Soviet press of the time as ideologically lightweight and a prime example of shameless “Western-style” entertainment. It was nonetheless a huge popular success and after more than eighty years, it remains as exhilarating as it is fascinating.