Nazi escapees to South America in film

This video is called Cornered 1945 Trailer.

By Charles Bogle in the USA:

Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 5: the most political of the Warner Bros. film noir collections

14 March 2012

Volume 5 of Warner Bros. Film Noir Classic Collection contains eight films made between 1945 and 1956. As has been the case with several recent releases in this and other film noir collections, there are no undiscovered masterpieces, and several of the movies are not noir.

At the same time, the overall quality of the choices ranges from the watchable to the remarkable. In addition, Volume 5 is the most politically overt collection yet, with the selections falling into two general categories: the difficulties confronting World War II veterans and the “enemy within” theme spawned by Cold War-induced fear and conformity.

Due to the number of films in this collection, this reviewer will focus on the best example of each category while devoting less, but well-deserved time to the other selections.

Cornered (1945), directed by Edward Dmytryk (Tender Comrade, Murder, My Sweet, Crossfire, The Caine Mutiny) combines the hard-boiled detective plot of film noir with a first-rate exposé of the Nazi collaborators allowed to escape Europe and infest South America following the Second World War.

After being demobilized in London and given back pay accrued during his confinement in a prison camp in Nazi-occupied France, Canadian flyer Laurence Gerard (Dick Powell) returns to France to avenge the murder of his French wife (a member of the resistance) of only 20 days.

Once there, he discovers his wife and 50 other French resistance fighters were assassinated by Vichy Nazi collaborator Marcel Jarnac (Luther Adler). Gerard tracks his wife’s killer to Argentina, where he finds a nest of French expatriates (some of whom were also Vichy Nazi collaborators) and a group of agents also dedicated to catching the war criminal.

After a series of miscalculations and dead ends (mostly due to shortsightedness induced by his single-minded purpose), Gerard awakens to the larger, insidious forces at hand, which in turn allows him to finally discover the still-living Jarnac’s location and see justice done.

Male protagonists blinded by their own interests are a film noir staple, and given the deadly serious nature of this film, Powell rightly plays Gerard as an edgier, more determined version of his Philip Marlowe in 1944’s Murder, My Sweet (also directed by Dmytryk).

Walter Slezak is excellent as the bully Melchior Incza who plays both sides in the search for Jarnac. True to his character’s type, Slezak plays him as a slimy, unctuous figure to superiors (especially those with money) who turns vicious toward those beneath him.

In fact, true to another film noir staple, nearly everyone Gerard meets is not what he or she seems. Micheline Cherial’s Madeline Jarnac is another film noir female with a dual identity, and Nina Vale’s Senora Camargo is a more reserved, less acerbic version of earlier femme fatales.

Screenwriter John Paxton provides a well-researched script (from a story by John Wexley, a supporter of the Communist Party, like Dmytryk at the time) appropriate to its subject. The dialogue isn’t as quick and witty as in Murder, My Sweet, but that kind of playfulness would have undermined the serious tone of this film. Paxton does give Gerard well-placed sarcastic barbs that leaven the character’s almost robotic single-mindedness, e.g., to Senora Camargo’s “Shall I be honest?” Gerard replies, “Don’t strain yourself.”

Dmytryk would later go to jail in 1950 as one of the “Hollywood Ten,” and then recant, shamelessly turning anti-communist informer in testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1951. The producer of Cornered (and of three of Dmytryk’s other films), Adrian Scott, was another of the “Ten” who spent time in prison. Dmytryk named Scott before HUAC.

4 thoughts on “Nazi escapees to South America in film

  1. Pingback: Nazi escapees to South America in film | Dear Kitty. Some blog | Blog filmowy

  2. Pingback: Nazi escapees to South America in film | Dear Kitty. Some blog « Blog filmów

  3. Pingback: Nazis and post-1945 German intelligence service | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Argentine dictatorship’s secrets discoveries | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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