Friday, October 13, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Devil Makes Three (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Gene Kelly stars in THE DEVIL MAKES THREE (1952), an interesting "post-war European noir" available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

THE DEVIL MAKES THREE is in the tradition of other postwar films filmed in Germany, such as BERLIN EXPRESS (1948) and A FOREIGN AFFAIR (1948); however, this later film makes much better use of the location. The extensive winter filming in both Germany and Austria is the movie's best attribute.

Kelly plays Captain Jeff Eliot, who returns to Munich at Christmas 1947 to thank a family who hid him when his plane was shot down and helped smuggle him to safety.

He discovers their home is bombed out, but eventually learned the daughter, Wilhelmina (Pier Angeli), survived. Wilhelmina, or "Willie," is now a young woman who ekes out enough money to survive working in a nightclub.

As they become reacquainted, Jeff agrees to drive Willie to Salzburg to see old friends for Christmas. She later guiltily confesses that they had smuggled some items over the border into Austria, which earns her some extra money.

The American military, including Lt. Parker (Richard Egan), are also aware of the smuggling and believe it's part of something much bigger than anyone making a little money on contraband -- specifically, the U.S. believes that the smuggling involves funding a neo-Nazi organization hoping to spring back to life once the American occupation has ended.

THE DEVIL MAKES THREE is a solid suspense film with an appealing performance by Kelly as the perplexed American who finds himself drawn further and further into postwar intrigue, when all he'd like to do is enjoy Christmas and perhaps romance Willie.

The film has excellent mood, with some creepy musical performances at the nightclub where Willie works adding a forbidding feel to the film. (And check out the rotating nightclub dance floor!) I wouldn't class the film as top-drawer intrigue, but it's well made and beautifully filmed. Kelly and Angeli escaping for their lives as snow falls is just one great-looking sequence.

I also enjoyed the long shots of Salzburg, views familiar from THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965).

THE DEVIL MAKES THREE was directed by Andrew Marton and filmed by Vaclav Vich.

The Warner Archive disc is really lovely, a beautiful crisp print which shows off the snowy European scenes at their best. The DVD includes the trailer.

Previously reviewed MGM dramas starring Gene Kelly which are also available from the Warner Archive: PILOT #5 (1943), BLACK HAND (1950), and CREST OF THE WAVE (1954).

Another Gene Kelly review will be coming soon, the Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the musical BRIGADOON (1954).

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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