6.8/10
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33 user 7 critic

Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)

| Drama, War | 6 May 1939 (USA)
FBI agent Ed Renard investigates the pre-War espionage activities of the German-American Bund.

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Milton Krims (screen play), John Wexley (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Edward Renard
Francis Lederer ... Schneider
George Sanders ... Schlager
Paul Lukas ... Dr. Kassell
Henry O'Neill ... Attorney Kellogg
Dorothy Tree ... Hilda Kleinhauer
Lya Lys ... Erika Wolf
Grace Stafford ... Mrs. Schneider
James Stephenson ... British Military Intelligence Agent
Hedwiga Reicher ... Mrs. Kassell (as Celia Sibelius)
Joe Sawyer ... Werner Renz
Sig Ruman ... Krogman (as Sig Rumann)
Lionel Royce Lionel Royce ... Hintze
Henry Victor ... Wildebrandt
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ... Helldorf (as Hans von Twardowski)
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Storyline

Prior to the United States entry into World War II, Nazi spies try to steal American military secrets. Among those whose passions are roused is Kurt Schneider who was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the US Army. Schneider is not very bright and is easily swayed by the oratory of Dr. Karl Kassel, a prominent physician who is eventually made the head of the Nazi spy ring. When Schneider's contact is arrested in Scotland, the US military asks the FBI to root out the spies. Agent Edward Renard is put in charge of the case and they methodically arrest all who have been spying. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THEY don't want you to see this picture! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Confesiunile unui spion nazist See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite this being a vehement anti Nazi film, the word "Jew" is never mentioned. The topic is tangentially addressed when Dr Kassell rants about a vast and dangerous international conspiracy (clearly the Jews in this context). The coyness about using the word in the film, which the Nazis were certainly not shy about using, suggests that the filmmakers thought that there was not a great deal of sympathy for the Jews in the United States at that time (1939). I cannot be certain, as it has been a long time since seeing it, but I think that the film The Mortal Storm was also coy about mentioning Jews. This was another excellent anti Nazi film made by Hollywood early in the war. See more »

Goofs

In one scene there is a large sign on a fence reading, "Fort Wentworth Base Hospital." The Army does not refer to its installations as "bases." A correct sign would have read "Post Hospital." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: Some months ago, various persons appeared in the federal courts of New York City and the Panama Canal Zone, charged with the crime of espionage against the armed forces of the United States. Called to the witness stand, they swore to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God". The story brought out at those trials is stranger than fiction, revealing the existence of a vast spy ring operating against the naval, military, and air forces of the United...
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Alternate Versions

For the 1940 re-release, Warner Bros. added footage showing the devastation inflicted on Norway, Holland and Belgium, those countries then occupied by Germany. That footage is included in the print shown on Turner Classic Movies. See more »

Connections

Featured in La Saga Warner (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Annie Laurie
(1834-35) (uncredited)
Music by Lady John Scott
Whistled by Alec Craig
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nothing Subtle in this film's message
7 November 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Confessions of a Nazi Spy was made anticipating the fact that American involvement in World War II was inevitable so it is better to know thy enemy. Based on FBI files, Confessions of a Nazi Spy was a story about both the German American Bund and its links to the Nazi regime and the espionage and sabotage it tried to do.

The film is done in a documentary style, more popular over at 20th Century Fox than at Warner Brothers, with films like The House on 92nd Street and Calling Northside 777 as examples of the style.

The Nazis shown here are straight up villains be they respected physician Paul Lukas or disgruntled plebeian Francis Lederer. I think Lederer modeled his character on Bruno Hauptmann, the Lindbergh baby kidnapper and maybe the most unpopular man in America at one point. Hauptmann's appearance and voice were in newsreels to study and isn't it ironic that the man he wronged became a spokesman for appeasement.

On the other hand Edward G. Robinson is quite the stand up hero as the FBI agent investigating the Bund. Robinson was one of the bigger anti-Nazi activists in Hollywood and was proud to be included in what he considered a very important message.

No subtlety used in this film. For those not interested in the anti Nazi message, Confessions of a Nazi Spy does succeed on the entertainment level as well. But I will say that playing America the Beautiful over the end credits was a bit much even for audiences in 1939.


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