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Watch on the Rhine

Watch on the Rhine(1943)


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The film begins with the following written foreword: "In the first week of April 1940 there were few men in the world who could have believed that in less than three months Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France would fall to the German invaders. But there were some men, ordinary men, not prophets, who knew this mighty tragedy was on the way. They had fought it from the beginning and they understood it. We are most deeply in ther debt. This is the story of one of these men." A December 2, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item reports that Warner Bros. paid $150,000 for the film rights to Lillian Hellman's play. The play was produced by Herman Shumlin, who directed the film version. Several of the actors, including Paul Lukas (who won the Oscar for Best Actor and the New York Drama Critics award for his portrayal of "Kurt"), Lucile Watson (who was nominated as Best Supporting Actress), George Coulouris, Eric Roberts and Frank Wilson reprised their theatrical roles for the film. Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett's script was nominated for Best Screenplay.
       According to memos in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the PCA objected that the murder of "Teck" by "Kurt" was left unpunished and made to seem justified. As a solution, the Hays Office suggested that the scene could remain if it were established at the end of the film that "Kurt" had been killed by the Nazis. Author Lillian Hellman called this attitude childish and the studio agreed that there was no need to justify the killing of a Nazi. Information in the Warner Bros. Collection notes that Margaret Sullavan and Irene Dunne were considered for the role of "Sara" and George Sanders was considered for the role of "Teck." A poll of film reviewers and critics conducted in 1943 by Film Daily named Paul Lukas in this picture as their favorite actor. A June 29, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item reports that some scenes were filmed on location at the Graves Mansion in San Marino, CA. According to information in the Warner Bros. Collection, other scenes were filmed at Union Station in Los Angeles, the Warner Bros. Ranch and at Busch Gardens in Pasadena, CA. According to modern sources, Paul Henreid and Charles Boyer tested for the role of "Kurt Muller." The film was named one of the Film Daily Ten Best Pictures of 1943 and also was the NYFC choice for Best Picture.