(director: Richard Thorpe; screenwriters: Keith Winter/Melville Baker/Patricia Coleman/based on the novel by Helen MacInnes; cinematographer: Robert H. Planck; editor: George Hively; music: Bronislau Kaper; cast: Joan Crawford (Frances Myles), Fred MacMurray (Richard Myles), Conrad Veidt (Count Hassert Seidel), Basil Rathbone (Count Sig von Aschenhausen), Reginald Owen (Dr. Mespelbrunn), Ricahrd Ainley (Peter Galt), Cecil Cunningham (Countess von Aschenhausen), Bruce Lester (Thornley); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Victor Saville; MGM; 1943)
“It’s pure escapism, and as such is very entertaining.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
MGM’s wartime espionage drama engagingly directed by Richard Thorpe(“Night Must Fall”/”Black Hand”/”Ivanhoe”)and written byKeith Winter, Melville Baker and Patricia Coleman, is based on the novel by Helen MacInnes. It’s pure escapism, and as such is very entertaining.
In 1939, Oxford professor Richard Myles (Fred MacMurray) and his bride Frances (Joan Crawford) go on a honeymoon in prewar southern Germany. Before they go, Richard’s former classmate at Oxford, Peter Galt (Ricahrd Ainley), now with the foreign office, persuades the couple to act as spies for the Brit government while posing as tourists. Their mission is to locate the scientist, unknown to the Secret Service, to obtain details of a new Nazi weapon, a magnetic mine that can blow up vessels underwater. Their sign of friendly contacts along the way is through the song “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose.”
The happy-go-lucky American newlyweds follow a trail of clues that takes them from Paris to Salzburg, where they meet the film’s heavy, an Austrian Oxford classmate of Richard’s, Count Sig von Aschenhausen (Basil Rathbone), now a high ranking German officer, who entraps the couple in a secluded Bavarian castle and sics the Gestapo on them. They escape with the aid of the Salzburg museum tour guide Count Hassert Seidel (Conrad Veidt, died of a fatal heart attack shortly after completing this film), who is working for the Brits. The couple are given names to help in their mission and info about the new Nazi weapon by Dr. Mespelbrunn (Reginald Owen), the scientist they freed in the Bavarian castle. The American couple then visit a couple in Innsbruck who provide them with phony passports. The Myles are forced to go their separate ways for strategy reasons and adorn Tyrolean costumes in disguise. Nevertheless Frances is captured when recognized before she can leave Innsbruck, and is sent to a local prison camp. With the help of Seidel and a recent Oxford grad, Thornley (Bruce Lester), who came to Germany to successfully assassinate the cruel commandant of Dachau, who tortured to death his relatives, at a Liszt concert. The trio raid the prison camp by surprising the Gestapo guards and flee by car wearing captured Nazi uniforms.
The delightful but incredulous film ends with the couple crossing the Alps to safety in the Italian frontier by outracing the pursuing Nazi soldiers and a lighthearted MacMurray then says to wifey, “How about some spaghetti?”It was that kind of appetizing pic.
REVIEWED ON 10/21/2010 GRADE: B+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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