Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tonight's Movie: The Conspirators (1944)

THE CONSPIRATORS is a murky yet stylish tale of WWII intrigue set in Lisbon. The film, which reunites some of the cast of CASABLANCA (1942), is clumsily plotted yet still mildly entertaining, thanks to its cast and Warner Bros. production values.

Vincent Van Der Lyn (Paul Henreid) is a Dutch resistance fighter who must escape to neutral Lisbon, where he joins an underground anti-Nazi group led by Ricardo Quintanilla (Sydney Greenstreet). Van Der Lyn helps Quintanilla identify a traitor in their midst, while also finding time to romance beautiful Irene (Hedy Lamarr).

Henreid is a fairly bland leading man, but I've always enjoyed Hedy Lamarr.  A fine supporting cast, including Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Joseph Calleia, keeps things fairly interesting. After a while I gave up on following the convoluted plot closely and simply enjoyed the look and feel of wartime Warner Bros. The film builds to a strong conclusion, with all the main characters gathered tensely around a roulette table where the traitor will be revealed.

Hedy Lamarr was nearing the end of her MGM years when she was lent to Warner Bros. to make this film. She doesn't have a great deal to do -- there's virtually no setup for her romance with Henreid -- but she is beautifully photographed in black and white by Arthur Edeson. Her gowns are by Leah Rhodes.

Joseph Calleia is particularly good as a twisty character who could be friend or foe. Calleia excelled in this type of part; I especially liked him in a similarly ambiguous role in the Western FOUR FACES WEST (1948).

THE CONSPIRATORS was directed by Jean Negulesco. It runs 101 minutes.

This film is not available on DVD or VHS. It can be seen as part of the library on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer is here.

2 Comments:

Blogger panavia999 said...

I think this is one of those movies that illustrates Hedy Lamarr's famous quote, "Any girl can look glamorous, just stand still and look stupid." Hedy was so beautiful, she didn't have enough opportunities to show her talent. This movie is fun just for all the character actors. How *did* those women in films like this manage to keep their sequined gowns, jewels and furs intact while running away from the Gestapo?

4:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

A film where I thought Lamarr got a chance to show much more of her acting ability was EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (1944). It's a shame she didn't have more chances at good films/directors because she was a smart woman and capable actress in addition to being a remarkable beauty.

Best wishes,
Laura

4:50 PM  

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