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  • Long before the "method" style "invaded" the acting profession, there were many equally fine performers which came before the mid-'50s "movement."

    These "predecessors" didn't wear their craft-on-their-sleeve as much; in fact, many (like Tracy, Ryan, and Cagney) behaved so naturally, it was as though they were speaking their own lines. One such earlier talent was John Garfield.

    A consummate performer, Garfield could seemingly do no wrong--not make one false move. In film after film, he didn't appear to be acting; rather he was just "being" the character.

    Although "The Fallen Sparrow" isn't one of Garfield's greatest parts or films, he's on target in every scene. Yes, it's called "talent, star quality," and Garfield's got "it."

    With a respectable "noir" script, and peopled with a solid cast of leads and supporters, "Sparrow" manages to engage the attention and create genuine interest throughout. A good looking, sharp and crisp, black-and-white production design enhances this presentation, which also features the always dependable Maureen O'Hara and Walter Slezak.
  • dougdoepke26 December 2009
    Lushly mounted espionage thriller that rivets the eye even when the narrative meanders. It's the great RKO artistic team of Musuraca, Silvera, and D'Agostino setting the stage for noir's post-war golden period, foreshadowed here by the rich b&w landscape. Garfield's a shattered veteran of the Spanish Civil War, tortured by the fascists and a mysterious limping man. Now he's back in New York trying to regain stability and find out who killed his best friend. Along the way, he meets up with sinister European types and the beauteous O'Hara looking like she stepped off a 1942 Vogue cover. Turns out everybody, including the limping man, is trying to get possession of a regimental battle standard whose whereabouts only Garfield knows. Needless to say, at times the storyline could use a road map to follow. But that's okay because the appeal lies elsewhere, as in the shadowy characters and photography.

    Note how effectively Garfield's moments of derangement are highlighted by the musical score and the astute close-ups. Those penetrating few moments are hauntingly expressed as they reach into Kit's (Garfield) tortured "subjective" reality. The actor delivers in spades in a difficult role requiring that he be in about every scene. The movie's also an eye-full for the guys with three knockout leading ladies. However, despite her looks, I think the normally vivacious O'Hara is miscast, a little too stiff and impassive for the subtleties required by her character. On a different note, the limping man's dragging foot adds a creepy sound to the sinister atmosphere and is what I remember most from seeing the film as a kid. Anyway, the movie's an unusual thriller with a really great "look" that stands up well over the decades.
  • ***SPOILERS*** Almost incomprehensible plot that has to do with a Nazi spy ring in the heart of New York City masquerading around as a bunch of refugee European society blue-bloods.

    Emotionaly disturbed and mentally broken Jon "Kit" McKittrick, John Garfield,is back in New York after a stay at a rest home in Arizona. McKittrick is recovering from the horrors of being held prisoner for two years in a Nazi-like prison camp, in Spain. McKittrick finds out ,through an old newspaper clipping, that his old friend and NYPD cop Let. Louie Lepitino had killed himself while he was away recovering in the Arizona rest home. It was Louie who helped get Kit out of the Fascist prison camp in Spain a year earlier. Kit is now sure that Louie's tragic death wasn't an accident, it was murder.

    Having been captured at the end of the Spanish Civil War were he fought the Spanish Fascists forces of Francisco Franco Kit was put under extreme torture by his captors to find something that he hid from them before he was apprehend. Unknown to the Fascists the item is safely locked up in a secret Libson Portugal bank safe deposit box.

    With all the sub-plots and double-crossing in the movie "The Fallen Sparrow" you never get a handle to what these cryptic-Nazis, hiding behind the facade of Spanish and French Royality, want from the poor and mentally unbalanced Kit McKittrick.

    Were given information from Kit,in what looks like a drug induced stupor, that he was involved in the death of a top German general in the Spanish Civil War. This general was a close friend and fellow 1923 Beer Hall putsch veteran of Adolf Hitler himself. It was Hitler who then ordered the Gestapo and Nazi agents to track down every member of this anti-Fascist brigade, responsible for the German Generals death. The Gestapo and it's agents in the US were not only told have them killed but to find the brigade pennant, or official flag, which only Kit knew where it is: In the Libson's bank safe deposit box.

    Increidably complicated and convoluted plot that you just give up on almost half way through the movie. Kit's all over the place looking for this lame or club footed Nazi doctor, like the one-armed man in the TV show "The Fugitive", who's now the Nazi agent out to get him to talk about where the pennant is and, after getting the information from Kit, then murder him. This Nazi is also the man who Kit remembers back from his time in the Spanish prison from the sounds he made when he walked. Kit never saw him. It later comes out that everything that happened to Kit from the time he left Arizona to when he got to New York was all planned, ahead of time, by this group of pseudo-aristocratic Nazis themselves.

    Like a boat in a thick fog at sea the movie just limps along making little if any sense at all as it reaches it's totally unbelievable climax. Kit finally finds out not just who was behind the death of policemen Louie Lepitino, it turns out that Louie didn't kill himself like Kit suspected, but the murder of his close friend and Washington insider Ab Parker, Bruce Edwards.

    I thought that it was a bit egotistical of Kit to think that the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler himself took such a deep interest in him to the point of forgoing his responsibility of conducting the German military in WWII against the allies. An obsession on Hitler's part which, if you take Kit and the movie "The Fallen Sparrow" seriously,eventually cost him the war.

    The relationship between Kit and mystery women Toni Donne, Maureen O'Hara,also took a great strain on your thought processing mechanisms. You never for once know just what Toni's role in this half cocked scheme as well as her involvement with these Nazis really is? You get at least three different explanations from her in the movie to just what Toni's role is in all this none of which make any sense at all!

    The Nazi spies are headed by this off-the-wall torture fixated psycho Dr. Christian Skaas, Walter Slezak. Dr. Skass brain-addled sidekick is the former, or what he thinks he is, French monarch as well as the bluest of European blue-bloods Prince Fracois De Namur played by veteran Jewish Yiddish theater actor Sam Goldenberg.
  • The Spanish Civil War was never a popular subject to begin with for Hollywood, but in 1943 two films would come about it. The first was Paramount's big budget For Whom The Bell Tolls and the second made for considerably less was The Fallen Sparrow about a veteran of that conflict's and the quest after him.

    Before just membership in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade blacklisted you from all kinds of places after, people returned after the loss of the war by the Republic to the Falangists without any of the problems that John Garfield faces in The Fallen Sparrow. But it seems as though Garfield managed to cop a battle flag from some old European house that is in sympathy with the Nazis. Believe it or not, Adolph Hitler is going through some really unbelievable lengths to get it back.

    Maybe if Garfield had some secret chemical formula stashed somewhere I might have gotten the plot of this film. But for the life of me if it weren't for Garfield's strong performance as a veteran who underwent all kinds of sophisticated torture, the film would have been laughable. So while the plot premise was ridiculous, Garfield's performance anticipates by several years other films about brainwashing techniques on prisoners and the readjustment to civilian life which Garfield never quite makes.

    In any event back from the Spanish Civil War and before America gets into World War II, Garfield finds himself involved with some strange foreign refugee types as he goes looking for the murderer of a New York City cop and pal of his who arranged his escape from the clutches of the new Falangist government under Francisco Franco. The most sinister of them and he usually is in these films is Walter Slezak.

    In her memoirs Maureen O'Hara said that Garfield was a delightful person to work with even though she was far from sympathetic with his politics. She had no hesitation in labeling him a Communist. In point of fact Garfield was a strong New Deal Democrat who in his years growing up poor and later in the Group Theater made some friends who unashamedly were Communists. They called people like him 'fellow travelers' back in those old bad old days.

    The Fallen Sparrow would have been a lot better film had it been given a stronger plot premise.
  • I've always enjoyed Garfield's work; he's honest, tough and unpredictable. This WWII drama has its own propaganda agenda and dependable Walter Slezak is a creepy Nazi. Audiences of 1943 would find it easy to cheer and boo in the right places, but only for a while. For the mystery to work there has to be some surprises. Lovely and curvaceous Maureen O'Hara is so sweetly sympathetic but also duplicitous, her true motivations are as hard to guess as her stunning appearance is easy to admire.

    As far as a stand alone film it is a tad dated because it was a product of it's time and agenda. This was not meant to be escapism; it was a message of how dark the opposition was and how they stooped low to break our spirit. But we know in the end the good guys will win and their pride, their spirit and their cause must lose.

    So in retrospect I give it a soft recommendation unless you can put yourself in the mind-set that was made for a specific audience, the mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends', and children of those fighting the biggest war in history.
  • I was totally surprised by the quality of this one. The pacing of the film was perfect. I can't say enough how good John Garfield was. I recently watched and reviewed "Out of the Fog" in which he was in and was really disappointed in that one. Far and away my least favorite of his but with this one, just an excellent film.

    They don't give anything up until the end of this one. You really have to pay attention to every cast member. Even half way through you'll be wondering what the heck is going on, but don't worry, wait til' the end. It's so worth it.

    I can't recommend this film any higher. This is really good stuff here.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Novelist Dorothy B. Hughes built a good head of paranoia and suspense in her 1942 thriller THE FALLEN SPARROW (TFS), and RKO masterfully and faithfully adapted the 1943 movie version. Director Richard Wallace, screenwriter Warren Duff, and editor Robert Wise condense the novel's events and complex relationships without watering it down.

    Starting with the quote "...in a world at war many sparrows must fall...", the film brings us into the mindset of troubled yet determined hero John "Kit" McKittrick (John Garfield). Kit's boyhood friend Lt. Louie Lepetino had helped him escape the Spanish prison where he'd been tortured for two agonizing years after the Spanish Civil War. Returning to New York City from a ranch rest cure, Kit's stunned to discover that Louie's been killed in a 12-story fall from a window at a swanky party for wartime refugees Dr. Skaas (Walter Slezak) and his nephew Otto (Hugh Beaumont, pre-LEAVE IT TO BEAVER). Hell-bent on proving Louie's death was neither accidental nor a suicide, Kit starts sleuthing, with help from pal Ab Parker (Bruce Edwards). Kit's grim goal: killing Louie's killer.

    Kit's suspects include just about everyone in his upscale circle of friends, especially the women, since he's sure only a dame could've gotten close enough to Louie to shove him out a window. Was it Kit's alluring old flame Barby Taviton (brunette Patricia Morison may not look like the blonde Barby described in Hughes's book, but she's got the sophistication and entitled attitude)? Lovely, sad-eyed refugee Toni Donne (Maureen O'Hara in a change-of-pace role; more on that shortly)? Ab's young songbird cousin Whitney Parker, affectionately known as "Imp" (appealing Martha O'Driscoll. By the way, this character's name was "Content Hamilton" in the novel, but I like her new name better)? Kit's biggest obstacle: he has what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's still haunted by the memory of the mysterious man from Franco's elite Nazi squad, a limping man who tortured Kit in his dark cell, trying to make him reveal where he'd hidden his regiment's battle standard. (In the novel, the McGuffin was a set of fabulous Babylon goblets the defiant Kit took from the enemy. The goblets are in the film, but the script emphasizes that battle flag and the symbolism behind it.) Even now, Kit struggles against fear as he imagines hearing the drag and thump that signaled his sadistic tormentor's arrival -- or IS he imagining it? Terror mounts as Kit realizes his enemies may have followed him home, maybe even planting their spies into every aspect of Kit's life, placing not only himself in danger, but also his friends and loved ones...

    The role of Kit, a working-class, self-described "mug" in gent's clothing (his ex-cop dad struck it rich) with a heart full of all-but-shattered ideals, fits John Garfield like a glove. Garfield's toughness, tenderness, and humor have us rooting for Kit. As in the book, Kit spends lots of time and energy trying to convince himself he's not afraid, only to be proved wrong, to his frustration. Hughes's haunting descriptions of Kit's memories of his horrific Spain ordeal are conveyed well in Garfield's powerful monologue, enhanced by the camera's slow close-up on his expressive face. The sweat on Garfield's brow and the twitch in his cheek as he finally faces his enemy during the climax speak volumes.

    As Toni Donne, the guarded beauty with a terrible hold over her, lovely Maureen O'Hara (did they darken her red hair, or is it just Nicholas Musuraca's gorgeous black-and-white photography?) tries to downplay her Irish accent, but it still lurks in certain words. While our household loves O'Hara, she wouldn't have been our first choice as a femme fatale, but Toni's inner fear and regret come through in O'Hara's poignant, soulful portrayal, winning my sympathy. O'Hara has great fire-and-ice chemistry with the intense Garfield. In the book, Kit kissed Toni, but with her cautious reserve, she never kissed back with any kind of enthusiasm. In this film version, Kit and Toni finally share longing kisses and tender embraces -- much more fun to watch! :-) Walter Slezak's performance as Dr. Skaas is silkily sinister, though his true evil nature is telegraphed earlier than in the book, with his interest in "the cruelties of men towards other men" and "comparing modern scientific torture with the methods of the ancients" (who apparently didn't mess with victims' heads enough for Skaas). An avuncular hybrid of Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Clifton Webb, Slezak is one of 1940s cinema's most memorable villains.

    TFS keeps the paranoia percolating and the suspense simmering, even keeping much of the novel's best dialogue, with only minor tweaks. The filmmakers truly evoke the feeling and atmosphere of wintertime World War 2 Manhattan, especially with their use of shadows, light and sound as well as Roy Webb and Constantine Bakaleinikoff's Oscar-nominated score. Today's audiences might not understand Kit's obsession with the battle flag, even with the explanatory scene at Toni's home -- but then again, I bet the men and women fighting overseas will get the significance of a battle standard and what it symbolizes.

    Although Dorothy B. Hughes's mysteries were best-sellers in her heyday, they seemed to be all but forgotten after she retired to focus on her family. Luckily, the film version of TFS captures her tale of terror beautifully. If you want to read the book, Amazon.com has both new and used paperback editions available so you can rediscover her. Interestingly, the 1988 paperback edition I read had cover art with an uncanny resemblance to, of all things, the movie poster for THE FRENCH CONNECTION!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While this is not the greatest Garfield movie, it contains one of his most gritty and complex performances. While his tough, streetwise characters usually have a tender, caring heart that is in the right place, in this film he portrays a vulnerable, nearly-broken man who really has to work hard to summon the strength to fight and survive. The depiction of what would have been known then as "battle fatigue" or "war neuroses" is superb, and very true to what we now recognize under the rubric of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is worthy of study both as a film and as a kind of clinical document or case study of this condition. The use of expressionistic camera, lighting, and sound techniques to intensify the viewer's grasp of his interior mental/emotional status is quite effective, and I think this is what prompts some to classify it as a proto-Film Noir; this, along with some voice-over narration and duplicitous femme fatale characters might also lend such elements of noir identity. However, I am not too sold on that, any more than I would be to call Citizen Kane a film noir because it uses strong lighting & camera effects or a complex flashback narrative pattern. I think it is a good solid war drama full of some ambitious ideas and novel effects for that time period. As most reviewers note, the plot is convoluted and difficult to piece together, and the loyalty of many characters is dubious, kind of like The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon (now THERE'S a couple of films noir!), and probably contributes to the lesser-known status of this film. I think the focus on the "battle standard" is maybe not something that evokes a visceral reaction in most people either, so it is hard to wonder why everyone is struggling so hard to obtain it. We can all get why the characters want to possess a jewel-encrusted statuette of the black bird--or even some secret microfilm--but the Borgia flag is a little more abstract. All in all, I think the film is strongest in the acting department, and none stronger than John Garfield. I think it should be re-released as soon as possible on DVD in a nice print and with some extra features--it is more deserving than a lot of other things that roll off the assembly line!!
  • "The Fallen Sparrow" is a 1943 film starring John Garfield, Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, and Patricia Morison. Directed by Richard Wallace, from the novel by Dorothy Hughes, the story concerns John McKitrick, a Spanish Civil War vet who escaped from a prison camp, where he was tortured. He's suffering from severe post-traumatic stress, but he has returned to New York to find out who killed his best friend. He has something he brought back with him from Spain, and Nazi agents are on his trail for it. McKittrick doesn't know whom he can trust, and that includes the beautiful Toni Donne (O'Hara), the mysterious wheelchair-bound refugee doctor (Walter Slezak), or even an old friend (Martha Driscoll).

    Though Garfield is excellent as a former prisoner of war, and his performance is well worth seeing, the plot of "The Fallen Sparrow" is confusing; the film moves slowly and has very little action. The best thing about it is the cast - the stunning O'Hara, the glamorous Patricia Morison, and the sinister Slezak rounding it out.

    Reminiscent of "The Maltese Falcon," but Warners didn't score big with this one. Nevertheless, anything John Garfield did during his short career is worth seeing.
  • Hollywood fought World War II on many fronts: most obviously, in its documentaries and war dramas; in genre series coopted for the war effort (such as Sherlock Holmes programmers); and in thrillers dedicated to smoking out the Fifth Column at home (The House on Ninety-Second Street). There was also a more complicated, ideologically tinged kind of movie, not simply anti-Nazi but more broadly `anti-Fascist' (and defiantly leftist). Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine was one; The Fallen Sparrow was another.

    John Garfield (who else?) survived torture while fighting for the anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War, but it took its toll; he recuperated in a sanitarium in the Southwest. Upon returning to New York – where a war buddy has met death by defenestration from a penthouse party – he finds some of his friends traveling in the same circles as vaguely sinister Europeans and fly-specked aristocrats – Germans, Italians, Spaniards – who take a perverse interest in him. Among them is Maureen O'Hara (in a dark, forties updo), who runs hot and cold when it comes to his advances.

    The dense plot of The Fallen Sparrow collapses into a noirish muddle. Multiple heavies purr in a babel of as many stage accents (Hugh Beaumont's Prussian the most amusing of them). Walter Slezak plays a mittel-European professor whose passion seems to be the aesthetics of torture, and whose limp summons up nightmares for Garfield. There are also family crests dating from at least the Borgias (whose speciality was goblets of poisoned wine), a senile old curmudgeon who believes he'll be restored to the throne of France, and a tattered standard Garfield has rescued from Spain, which becomes this film's black bird....

    Following all these threads require rapt attention, but who would be willing to devote anything less to the fight against Fascism? The film borrows from such immediate predecessors in the nascent noir cycle as The Maltese Falcon (especially the ending) and The Glass Key. It cooks up plenty of atmosphere but lacks vital clarity. It's not without interest – the attention to the psychological aftermath of torture is a bold and courageous stroke – but with its political passions looking quaint, if not naive, this overheated melodrama leaves a scorched aftertaste.
  • mark-46022 February 2001
    Thank you Turner Classic Movies and Robert Osborne for introducing us to this excellent specimen of film noir. What is obvious to John Garfield fans is his passion and energy that he pours into his characters. Along with his performance, Maureen O'Hara is in an unusual role as the mysterious girl friend. A thriller!
  • The Fallen Sparrow is a wonderful thriller that leaves the viewer guessing right up to the final minutes. John Garfield returns to the US after having escaped from a Franco concentration camp where he was tortured and drugged. Despite being home, he is not free. Psychological warfare, drugs, sadistic murders and beautiful women. All the ingredients for a top film.
  • Tortured by Fascists during the Spanish Civil War, veteran John Garfield (as John "Kit" McKittrick) returns to find the policeman who helped him escape has supposedly committed suicide by jumping, or accidentally falling, from an open window. Smelling a rat, Mr. Garfield immediately realizes his friend was murdered. With the New York police seemingly in on the cover-up, Garfield begins investigating alone. The first suspects are three beautiful women - presumably red-haired hat clerk girl Maureen O'Hara (as Toni Donne), brunette ex-girlfriend Patricia Morison (as Barby Taviton), and blonde songstress Martha O'Driscoll (as Whitney Parker).

    As he relives psychological trauma incurred during his imprisonment, German Nazis close in on Garfield. Wheelchair-bound doctor Walter Slezak (as Christian Skaas) oozes suspicion. "The Fallen Sparrow" lacks some plot development, perhaps because the entire storyline from Dorothy B. Hughes' novel couldn't be included - and, at least one of the villains isn't too difficult to identify. Still, the film is very neatly directed by Richard Wallace, with editing by Robert Wise, black-and-white cinematography by Nick Musuraca, and "Academy Award"-nominated music by Roy Webb. And, as you'll see, Garfield and three beautiful women go a long, long way.

    ******** The Fallen Sparrow (8/19/43) Richard Wallace ~ John Garfield, Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, Patricia Morison
  • John Garfield plays a former POW from the Spanish Civil War who returns to New York City to investigate the murder of his friend, the same man who got him out of Spain. He soon finds himself pursued by Nazis who want a flag Garfield has in his possession. Noirish WW2 thriller offers good performances from Garfield and Walter Slezak but ultimately misses the mark at being anything memorable. It's a very talky film and the plot is hard to follow. Maureen O'Hara's lovely, as usual. Not the type of role that's up her alley but she does okay. The highlight of the movie was Martha O'Driscoll. Va-va-va-voom! Have mercy! Worth seeing for Garfield fans and, I suppose, those curious about seeing Ward Cleaver play a Nazi.
  • This is an extremely powerful film noir in the guise of an espionage mystery. It contains what may well have been the finest performance by John Garfield in his brief career (he died aged only 39 of congenital heart disease in 1952, though he had by then appeared in 32 films). Garfield plays a man who had fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War but had been captured, imprisoned, and sadistically tortured by Nazis involved in supporting the Franco side. He was held for two more years in prison after that war ended because they were trying to find out from him where he had concealed something. After escaping, he made his way back to America, where he was followed, and Nazi spies continually monitor him and kill his best friend. An ambiguous femme fatale provides the love interest, played with menace and studied elegance by Maureen O'Hara. Is she a Nazi spy or is she not? She tells Garfield she loves him. It is amazing how rapidly film stars fall in love on the screen, in a matter of sentences. Very effective use of sound occurs in this film, the sound of a crippled man dragging his bad foot is continually heard at moments of Garfield's greatest stress, as it was the same sound made by the Nazi official who came once a month to Spain from Berlin to supervise Garfield's torture. Is this man now in New York? Has Garfield met him? Can he survive such a confrontation? The suspense is thick, and Garfield's portrayal of a tough idealist who is on the verge of cracking up under the strain is horrifyingly real. What actor ever twisted his face up as well as that before or since, without looking silly? But we believe Garfield, because he is so convincing and genuine about it. The film is expertly directed by Richard Wallace, a highly talented though uneven director who is insufficiently recognised today. He directed the pathos-ridden SEVEN DAYS' LEAVE (1931, see my review), the impressive THUNDER BELOW (1932) with Talullah Bankhead, Katherine Hepburn in J. M. Barrie's THE LITTLE MINISTER (1934), and the forgotten film noir PAULA (1947) with Glenn Ford and Janis Carter, which has never had a modern release, but should. (He also directed a Shirley Temple film and numerous other light-weight comedies and adventure films.) This film is particularly noted for the sinister and powerful performance by Walter Slezak as 'Dr. Christian Skaas', ostensibly a Norwegian, but as we discover, really someone and something else. He has 'a hold over' O'Hara. Is he really holding her daughter captive somewhere, or is that just a story? As Garfield sweats it out, gun in pocket, sweat on brow, he tries to find the answers, and that ain't easy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is very interesting, but convoluted. And hard to follow. Yet it is good if you like international espionage and World War II spy movies. John McKittrick(John Garfield)was tortured in Franco's Spanish prison camp, but survives and returns home to find out who killed his comrade in arms Louis Lepetino, formerly a fellow New York City cop. His childhood friends and Louis' family all warmly welcome him back, but he is disturbed by what he has endured and the truth he must find. Anton(John Banner)who plays piano accompaniment to his childhood friend Whitney's(Martha O'Driscoll)singing is a spy for the Skaas family and attempts to kill Kit because he knows too much. Next Martha's brother Ab(Bruce Edwards)who is a Fed goes to D.C. to help Kit and returns answering a fraudulent letter for help sent by Otto claiming to be Kit, and Ab is murdered in his lobby. Meanwhile Kit has fallen for the mystery lady on the train back who was also at his welcome home party and works modelling at a womens hat boutique, Toni Donne(O'Hara). She is brusque and gives him the brush-off, but he is not easily dissuaded. He introduces himself, asks her on a date, sends her flowers, and she finally relents. They go out and have a wonderful time. She takes him to meet her family, and Dr Skaas in a wheelchair tells him of his book on his theory of effective mental torture. They show him their family crest and begin cross examining, but he plays dumb. They invite him to a concert of beautiful gypsy orchestrations and Dr Skaas corners him in a room upstairs. He was the Nazi guard at the prison camp with the dragging leg that followed tortures that come back to haunt Kit. Kit has a gun, but cannot shoot. Skaas has a poison syringe and is coming toward Kit. Kit finally shoots him dead! The cops come and catch Anton, but Toni has fled and is on a plane to Lisbon, when she is apprehended by the authorities and Kit takes her seat. The End.
  • Because this movie starred John Garfield and was made by Warner Brothers, I was quite surprised at just how ordinary and unexciting this movie was. Plus, it was a WWII American propaganda film that tried to mobilize the public against the Nazi menace--just the sort of film I usually love. But, instead of the menacing and almost inhuman enemy, this movie took a more cerebral look at the enemy and presented a much more restrained look at the Nazis. In the process, they also made an "action" movie with hardly any action and A LOT of talking. The end result was certainly watchable, but not exactly interesting or worth my time. It will surely sound low-brow, but I got very tired of John Garfield being so pleasant--I wanted to see him shoot some of the bad guys. But, again and again, the action just didn't heat up. A case in point--a guy breaks into the apartment and attacks Garfield. Garfield subdues him,...and they just talk! The guy isn't the least bit cooperative, but instead of either plugging him (shoot him, in other words) or at least beat the stuffing out of him. If I was attacked by Nazi agents and I got the upper hand, you bet I would have let 'em have it! And so would the REAL John Garfield!! This Garfield just isn't what I expected.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The very thought of Maureen O'Hara with the Nazis is most ridiculous. At least, they should have had her with a strong Irish accent, as we know that many in Ireland was sympathetic to the Germans during World War 11 because of their hatred towards England.

    We never fully understand why the Nazis wanted McKittrick, the James Garfield character. Therefore, it becomes puzzling that he was supposedly allowed to escape.

    It doesn't take much to realize who the man with the limp is.

    We're dealing with a Nazi spy ring in the higher classes of New York, but no, this is certainly no "House on 92nd Street."

    In this film, everyone is suspect. It may even take us a while to realize what the range, where the Garfield character, was sent to after his escape really is.
  • cinephage22 December 2015
    They do nothing but talk, talk, talk. No action at all except for five seconds when Garfield shoots though supposedly drugged the arch villain (no suspense in discovering who it was, you see at first sight that he is really really bad, only Garfield doesn't know). It's a pretty dull and boring propaganda movie and to tell the truth, though I know it will be considered sacrilegious by most, Garfield's expressionist acting doesn't help. It's so outdated that the torments that seize all of a sudden the poor victim of fascism ( Garfield was jailed in fascist Spain but tortured by Nazis who wanted nobody knows what from him), making his face change and show inner terror are almost funny. Wasn't next-door nice guy Garfield really overrated as an actor ?
  • Unfortunately, this movie dissolves in a simple detective story with nazi spies as the villains. Most of the acting seems stiff and unnatural. Few of the characters can be as morally good or as evil as they are portrayed. The Spanish Civil War angle is interesting, and the relation of Hitler's Germany to Franco's Spain provides some historical base for the plot. There are disjointed scenes, such as those with a murdered friend's mother pleading for justice and the gypsy dance segment, which are only weakly related to the ideas of dangerous spies in a world about to enter World War Two. There also seems to be a chronic problem with 1943 movies about events of 1940 or earlier in that what transpired in the intervening years tends to mangle both time and history. In the final analysis, this movie asks the question "who done it?" Alas, who cares?

    If you enjoy Maureen O'Hara you may find this movie more palatable, especially because her later screen personality can be detected here to some degree. The movie is worth a look just to view her performance.
  • Maureen O'Hara once told me that no studio photographed her to better advantage than RKO and, after seeing this movie once again, I have to agree. I also found it refreshing to see her play a role different from what was usually expected of her. John Garfield is always wonderful, but for me the most interesting character was that played by the great Walter Slezak. This actor dominates every scene he is in and should be remembered and appreciated as much as other similar greats such as Sydney Greenstreet. As for the story, I think this is an example of style trumping narrative. The RKO style (camera, sets, art direction, etc.)was second to none and for those of us appreciative of such visuals, this movie is a treat.
  • SnoopyStyle25 August 2020
    John "Kit" McKittrick (John Garfield) arrives to investigate the death of his best friend Louie Lepetino. He distrusts the police who claim the death to be a suicide. He falls for Toni Donne (Maureen O'Hara). During the Spanish Civil War, he was taken prisoner and interrogated by a shadowy Nazi with a limp.

    The movie has the feel of a nightmare. The expected whodunnit turns out to be more convoluted. Characters are constantly popping up. All along, there is a background of psychological torture. Garfield gives a great sense of a man under stress. It is somewhat hard to keep track of the people or the plot. I would be amendable if this becomes more Kafkaesque and more surreal. It needs to not make sense in more specific ways. This seems to be the work of a filmmaker unable to dive head first into unrealism.
  • Political and Propaganda Picture, this John Garfield Film-Noir has its Pro-War Message Buried Deep in 1940 Pre-War Foreign Intrigue Involving Fascist and Hitler's Henchmen Coming to America to Recover an Important and Symbolic Emblem.

    It is All Convoluted into a Multi-Character, Twisted Plot that is so Confusing and "Foreign" at Times it sort of Begs for the McGuffin to be Forgotten for a While. But that Never Happens. People Talk about it Relentlessly and as the Viewer Strains for it All to Make Sense the Movie is in Danger of Losing Anyone who was Initially Interested.

    But Garfield and a Pretty Good Cast Including a Stiff Looking but Stunning Maureen O'Hara and some Great Noir Cinematography and Claustrophobic Sets Keeps Things Engaging. There is some Cutting Edge Talk about Torture and the Psychological Scarring of Garfield Returning from a POW Camp Suffering from Hallucinations and Confusion is Central to the Perplexing Plot, Suspicious Loyalties, and Spy Stuff.

    Overall the Overwritten and Obscure Talking about so Many Characters keeps this from Excellent Status, but Garfield's Mental Instability and an Underlying Creepy Factor make this an Above Average War Story about Life During Wartime.
  • Most of Garfield's movies are too old and mired in the great depression to hold up. Although it creaks, this one holds up well as it was released 1943. His portrayal of a tough guy recovering from post traumatic stress is unusual. Is he plagued by auditory hallucinations or does he really hear that fiend dragging his foot outside his door ? Like most film noirs the good guys triumph but they don't find happiness.

    An interesting characterization by Maureen O'Hara as the mysterious woman who seems to share her love with Garfield. Most female characters weren't this deep or complicated. Her role is a very different from her roles as John Wayne's former wife. In a feminine way she is tougher than Garfield's character.

    Like any movie made in 1943 the plot is anti fascist. But as someone who fought in the Spanish Civil War, Garfield's character should lean to the left. Yet he is part of a wealthy uptown crowd.

    If you like John Garfield but find his movies of the depression too distant to appreciate, try this one.
  • When this movie was made, Stalin had pulled out his support for the Spanish Civil War, had made a pact with Hitler, and took his share of Poland in 1939. Most intellectual Communists in the USA could not acept Communism as its future, and most Americans who fought in the Civil War lost thier passionate fervor. Therefore, the plot on which this movie stands is sheer propaganda made to fit the American view of the world in 1943. As a movie, the acting and dialog are excellent, however the plot is absurd. Of all the dictators and "elected" heads of state in the 20th century, Franco was modestly evil compared to those men who lead the world in the middle of the 20th century.
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