Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Berlin Correspondent (1942)

BERLIN CORRESPONDENT is a sort of poor man's FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940), with Dana Andrews starring as an American journalist involved in wartime intrigue in Germany.

After playing supporting roles in films such as THE WESTERNER (1940), BELLE STARR (1941), and BALL OF FIRE (1941), Andrews -- complete with a rather jarring mustache -- played his first leading role as reporter Bill Roberts. Roberts must stay one step ahead of the Nazis as he sends coded broadcasts out of Berlin in November 1941. When one of Roberts' sources (Edwin Kaiser) is imprisoned, Roberts helps the man escape to Switzerland. Roberts in turn is helped by his contact's daughter Karen (Virginia Gilmore) when he is imprisoned by the Gestapo.

This movie was released in September 1942 and is chiefly of interest as an example of a morale-building film early in the U.S. war effort. The Germans, led by Martin Kosleck and Sig Ruman, are portrayed as buffoons; Ruman, of course, famously played the ridiculous "Concentration Camp Ehrhardt" in Ernst Lubitsch's TO BE OR NOT TO BE, released earlier in 1942. While the film pokes fun at the enemy, their evil is also portrayed, such as in a scene where Ruman's character points out a crippled little girl due for a "mercy killing" because of her physical imperfection.

The movie appears to have been a "B" film, with a short 70-minute run time and fairly minimal production values. It's hokey at times and not really all that good, but Andrews is a winning film presence as the brash American, and the film hurtles along quickly to its conclusion.

Virginia Gilmore, who plays the troubled German girl Karen, appeared in films throughout the 1940s, mainly at 20th Century-Fox. She was married to Yul Brynner from 1944 to 1960.

The supporting cast includes Mona Maris. The film was directed by Eugene Forde.

BERLIN CORRESPONDENT is not available on DVD or VHS, but it can be seen from time to time on Fox Movie Channel.

2013 Update: This film is now available on DVD-R in the Fox Cinema Archives series.


Blogger Carl Rollyson said...

This film might be significant for Dana Andrews fans for proving that he looked better without a mustache. It looks pasted on. I like the movie, even though it is rather absurd. Andrews proves he can carry a B film, but he would have to wait a few years for his big break--as I will discuss in my forthcoming biography of him.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi, Carl!

With that mustache, I almost felt like they were trying to make Andrews look more like Don Ameche (who incidentally also played an American newsman in Europe in 1941's CONFIRM OR DENY).

Please keep us posted here as your book's publication date nears!

Best wishes,

9:17 AM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

Any movie with Dana Andrews is worth watching at least once. :-)

12:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Agreed! :)

Best wishes,

3:35 PM  

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