snapshot: Berlin Correspondent (1942)

US / 70 minutes / bw / TCF Dir: Eugene Forde Pr: Bryan Foy Scr: Steve Fisher, Jack Andrews Cine: Virgil Miller Cast: Virginia Gilmore, Dana Andrews, Mona Maris, Martin Kosleck, Sig Ruman, Kurt Katch, Erwin Kalser, Torben Meyer, William Edmunds, Hans Schumm, Leonard Mudie, Hans von Morhart, Curt Furberg, Henry Rowland, Christian Rub, Walter Sande.

Dana Andrews as Bill.

November 1941, and US radio journalist Bill Roberts (Andrews) broadcasts regular reports home from Berlin. Despite being heavily scrutinized by the Nazi censors, these contain coded messages telling the truth about how (badly) things are faring in Germany, and revealing Nazi plans. At the New York Chronicle Bill’s colleague Red (Sande) interprets the codes and writes the stories, to the perplexity of the Gestapo.

Erwin Kalser as Rudolf Hauen.

Bill has been getting his information at a philatelical shop from elderly Rudolf Hauen (Kalser), who has picked it up over the supper table from Continue reading

snapshot: Half Past Midnight (1948)

US / 69 minutes / bw / Sol M. Wurtzel, Twentieth Century–Fox Dir: William F. Claxton Pr: Sol M. Wurtzel Scr: Arnold Belgard Cine: Benjamin Kline Cast: Kent Taylor, Peggy Knudsen, Joe Sawyer, Walter Sande, Martin Kosleck, Mabel Paige, Gil Stratton Jr., Jean Wong, Jane Everett, Damian O’Flynn, Richard Loo, Tom Dugan, Jean De Briac, Willie Best, Victor Sen Yung, “Beetlepuss” Lewis, Max Wagner.

Peggy Knudsen as Sally.

Rich war hero, inveterate womanizer and general pain in the ass Wade Hamilton (Taylor) has come back to Los Angeles for a few days, and that’s regarded as bad news by his old childhood friend, now a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, Joe Nash (Sawyer). Joe tries to put his ol’ buddy under room arrest at the Ambassador Hotel, but reckons without the fact that a bellhop there, Chick Patrick (Stratton), was Wade’s tail-gunner over the Pacific during the war.

Freed, Wade goes to a niterie, Pierre’s, in search of a good time. He thinks he’s found it when he hooks up with the initially reluctant Sally Parker (Knudsen), who seems to be doing her best to be mistaken in a dim light for Lizabeth Scott.

Joe Sawyer (left) as Joe Nash and Walter Sande as MacDonald.

But then the niterie’s star act, Carlotta (Everett), who’s been blackmailing Sally over some letters—“written by my sister,” Sally unconvincingly claims—is gunned down, and Sally, Continue reading

Fly-by-Night (1942)

|
On the run for a murder he didn’t commit!
|

vt Dangerous Holiday
US / 72 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Robert Siodmak Pr: Sol C. Siegel Scr: Jay Dratler, F. Hugh Herbert Story: Ben Roberts, Sidney Sheldon Cine: John Seitz Cast: Richard Carlson, Nancy Kelly, Albert Basserman, Miles Mander, Walter Kingsford, Martin Kosleck, Marion Martin, Oscar O’Shea, Mary Gordon, Edward Gargan, Clem Bevans, Arthur Loft, Michael Morris, Cy Kendall, Nestor Paiva, John Butler.

An escapade conceived very much in the style of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (1935), with which movie it shares a number of plot points. Again we have a hero who has to go on the run because suspected of murdering a man who has sought his aid, and again our hero ropes in an unwilling woman as accomplice (with romance as inevitable, further down the line, as in a Hallmark Christmas movie), and again there’s an espionage conspiracy to be foiled.

To say that Siodmak, whose second Hollywood movie this was, was no Hitchcock is the obvious trite comment, and a foolish one—as foolish as saying, equally truthfully, that Hitchcock was no Siodmak. The two directors each had his own strengths, and this one plays to Siodmak’s. The comedy and tension are very well integrated—that I laughed aloud several times didn’t mean I wasn’t on the edge of my seat at others—but what stood out most for me, in terms of the direction, was Continue reading

Foreign Correspondent (1940)

US / 120 minutes / bw / Wanger, UA Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Pr: Walter Wanger Scr: Charles Bennett, Joan Harrison, James Hilton, Robert Benchley (plus several others uncredited) Story: Personal History (1935 memoir) by Vincent Sheean Cine: Rudolph Maté Special production effects: William Cameron Menzies Cast: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Albert Basserman (i.e., Albert Bassermann), Robert Benchley, Edmund Gwenn, Eduardo Ciannelli, Harry Davenport, Martin Kosleck, Frances Carson, Edward Conrad, Ian Wolfe, Samuel Adams, Charles Wagenheim.

On the eve of war in Europe, Powers (Davenport), editor of the New York Morning Globe, is weary of the lackluster reports emanating from London and his correspondent there, Stebbins (Benchley). He demands that one of the paper’s crime reporters, Johnny Jones (McCrea), be sent to Europe to dig up dirt. First, though, he gives Johnny a posher moniker—”Huntley Haverstock”—and introduces him to one of the people he should interview once he’s in London, Stephen Fisher (Marshall), leader of the Universal Peace Party, which is seeking even at this late stage to avert the outbreak of hostilities.

Once in London, Johnny meets Stebbins and, on his way to a peace meeting at the Savoy Hotel that Powers has told him to cover, opportunistically shares a cab with Dutch diplomat Van Meer (Basserman), a key figure in the peace movement who’s scheduled to address the meeting. They arrive together but, when it comes to Van Meer’s turn to speak, Fisher, as the meeting’s chairman, announces that Van Meer has had to cancel his appearance because of urgent duties elsewhere. Though puzzled, Johnny soon forgets the matter because the substitute speaker is Fisher’s daughter Carol (Day), whom Johnny met in the foyer beforehand and for whom he has fallen hard.

His next assignment is to Amsterdam. As he waits outside the hall, he sees Van Meer approaching; however, the man is assassinated by a supposed press photographer (Wagenheim), who flees. Johnny gives chase, commandeering a car in which it proves that Carol’s a passenger, the driver being her friend, another journalist, Scott ffolliott (Sanders). They follow the getaway car out into the countryside, where it seems to disappear. Convinced the assassin and his accomplice have hidden in a nearby windmill, Johnny sends Carol and Scott for the cops, himself creeping into the structure and discovering that the plotters have secreted the heavily drugged Van Meer there; the man whom Johnny saw shot down was an impersonator (Adams). Johnny slips away from the windmill but, by the time he brings help, the bad guys have disappeared, taking Van Meer with them and leaving only a fake tramp (Kosleck), who claims the mill has been deserted all day.

Foreign Correspondent - 1 Johnny creeps into the windmill

Johnny (Joel McCrea) creeps into the windmill . . .

Foreign Correspondent - 2 He finds the drugged Van Meer there

. . . and finds the drugged Van Meer (Albert Bassermann) there.

Foreign Correspondent - 3 Johnny clings to the outside of the millJohnny (Joel McCrea) clings to the outside of the mill as he evades detection by the bad hats.

Back in Amsterdam, two men claiming to be cops call on Johnny in his room at the Hotel Europe. Smelling a rat, he climbs along Continue reading