DEVIL MAKES THREE, THE(director/writer: Andrew Marton; screenwriters: Jerry Davis/based on the novel by Lawrence P. Bachmann; cinematographer: Vaclav Vich; editor: Ben Lewis; music: Rudolph G. Kopp; cast: Gene Kelly (Capt. Jeff Eliot), Pier Angeli (Wilhelmina Lehrt), Richard Rober (Col. James Terry), Richard Egan (Lt. Parker), Claus Clausen (Heisemann), Wilfried Seyferth (Hansig, manager of club), Heinrich Gretler (Keigler), Annie Rosar (Mrs. Keigler), Otto Gebuhr (Mr. Nolder), Gertrud Wolle (Mrs. Nolder), Margot Hielscher (Cabaret Singer); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard Goldstone; MGM; 1952)
“Pallid political thriller.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Song and dance man Gene Kelly stars in a rare dramatic turn in this pallid political thriller set in a devastated postwar Germany. It’s shot in black and white and on location in Germany and Austria, giving it an authentic feel. Austrian-born Andrew Marton (“King Solomon’s Mines”/”It Happened in Athens”/”The Thin Red Line”) sluggishly helms it after returning to his native country for the first time in twenty years since fleeing from Hitler; it’s weakly written by Jerry Davis and is based on the novel by Lawrence P. Bachmann. It’s a fictionalized story based on actual news events and public documents, that tells of the U.S. Army’s hunt for gold smuggled out of Germany by former Nazi officers.
Capt. Jeff Eliot (Gene Kelly) is a navigation instructor who returns on vacation to Munich in 1947 to pay back the favor of a German family who saved his life during WW II when they rescued him after his plane was shot down over Munich. He finds out that their home was bombed out and that only Lehrt’s teenage daughter Wilhelmina (Pier Angeli) is alive, as her parents were killed in an allied bombing raid. Unknown to Jeff is that Wilhelmina is on a list of bar girls who are involved in the black market. With the help of his hotel roommate, Lt. Parker (Richard Egan), Jeff tracks down Willie, her name for short, working as a hostess at the seedy Silhouette club. After overcoming her initial bitterness, they go on a Christmas holiday to be in Salzburg with old family friends–the Keiglers–with a car he specially purchases for the drive. He soon learns from Willie that she used him to smuggle camera lenses and needles across the border, but later learns from intelligence officer Col. James Terry (Richard Rober) that she’s involved in a much bigger smuggling operation. That Heisemann (Claus Clausen), the Silhouette’s pianist, runs the smuggling ring and is the neo-Nazi leader of a ring that is smuggling the hidden fortune in gold the Nazis stole from their concentration camp victims and obtained from other sources to be used to revitalize the party after their defeat. When Jeff is sure that Willie is involved, he agrees to help the colonel stop the ring. After another trip to the Keiglers with Willie, Jeff searches the parked car in the garage and Keigler tries to shoot him. But the shot hits the car bumper and it reveals where the gold is hidden. After escaping from Keigler and getting back on the autobahn with Willie, who swears she didn’t know about the gold, their car breaks down and they are taken prisoners by the Nazi gang. When Jeff realizes they both will be killed he initiates an escape, but Willie gets wounded and is left on the road. Fortunately Lt. Parker followed Heisemann when he left his club in his Mercedes, and calls for medical help. It ends after a high-speed chase on the autobahn, as the ring leader is cornered by Jeff, Parker and several M.P.s atop Berchtesgaden, the Brown House mountain retreat in the Alps where the Führer organized the Nazi party.
Everything about it seemed routine and tepid, including the unconvincing romance between Kelly and Angeli. Easily the best part of the film was viewing the European locations.
REVIEWED ON 10/21/2007 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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