I Was an Adventuress

I Was an Adventuress is a 1940 American drama film directed by Gregory Ratoff, starring Vera Zorina, Richard Greene, Erich von Stroheim and Peter Lorre.[1] Actress/ballerina Countess Tanya Vronsky (Vera Zorina) works as decoy for two international con artists Andre Desormeaux (Erich von Stroheim) and Polo (Peter Lorre).[2]

I Was an Adventuress
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGregory Ratoff
Produced byNunnally Johnson
Screenplay byKarl Tunberg
Don Ettlinger
John O'Hara
Based onJ'étais une aventurière
1938 French film
by Jacques Companéez
Herbert Juttke
Hans Jacoby
Michel Duran
StarringVera Zorina
Richard Greene
Erich von Stroheim
Peter Lorre
Music byDavid Buttolph
CinematographyLeon Shamroy
Edward Cronjager
Edited byFrancis D. Lyon
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date
May 10, 1940 (1940-05-10)
Running time
81 min
CountryUnited States


Countess Tanya Vronsky acts as bait for notorious jewel thief Andre Desormeaux and his assistant, Polo, on their tour through Europe. Everything goes according to plan until Tanya falls in love with their next target, Paul Vernay. Still, the gang manages to victimize Paul. After the heist, Tanya announces that she is retiring and goes on to marry Paul. Desormeaux tries to convince her to change her mind, but in vain.

They meet again months later in Paris, and Desormeaux makes another attempt at persuading the countess to work with them again. In order to get rid of them for good, she pretends to go along with their plans, but instead sets them up to be caught.

However, her plan is thwarted, and her two accomplices come to her home during a party and pretend to be guests. They manage to steal the guests' jewels and escape. Before they leave, Desormeaux blackmails Tanya, threatening to tell Paul about her past if he does not get 200,000 francs.

The theft is soon discovered, and Paul and Tanya go after the thieves in their car. On the way, Paul learns about Tanya's background and forgives her. While they are away, Polo returns to their house in a sudden change of heart, and gives back the jewels. Meanwhile, Desormeaux is boarding a ship to America.

Paul and Tanya come back and discover that the jewels have been returned. They forgive Polo. Tanya entertains her guests at the Vernay mansion by performing a dance from the ballet Swan Lake.

Polo then boards the ship, pretending to still have the jewels in a briefcase. He then "accidentally" drops the suitcase in the water.



  • Vera Zorina, whose real name was Brigita Hartwig, was married to dance director George Balanchine.[3]
  • The twelve-minute ballet sequence of Swan Lake was the longest ballet scene to appear in any film to date. For the scene, a $15,000 (equivalent to $268,254 in 2018) all-glass set, the first of its kind, was built using 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of ¼-inch plate glass.[3]


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