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Watch on the Rhine

Watch on the Rhine

DVD - 2008
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Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington D.C. after 18 years in Europe. A Romanian Count living there discovers Kurt's attache case full of money. He also finds out from friends at the German Embassy that Kurt is working with an anti-Nazi underground group in Germany. He tries to blackmail Kurt. Kurt shoots him and must flee. When Sara hears no more of Kurt, she knows that her oldest son Joshua will soon leave to work in the underground.

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SusyHendrix
Mar 09, 2020

Many Hollywood productions during WWII were barely-veiled propaganda for the war effort. Some, such as CASABLANCA, happen to be great works of art as well, allowing them to weather the years well. Others have not. WATCH ON THE RHINE stands in the middle: it has some compelling conflict between the characters, but for the most part, it's very talky and the heroes lack any ambiguity whatsoever. If you enjoy movies from this period, Lillian Hellman, or any of the stars involved, it's worth one viewing at least.

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Nursebob
Sep 14, 2019

Paul Lukas won his only Oscar playing an impassioned resistance fighter, Bette Davis gave a master class in overacting as his wife, and three child actors provide the worst performances of all in this wartime weeper adapted from Lillian Hellman’s play by Dashiell Hammett. True to its source, this is a highly theatrical movie with action rarely moving beyond the family estate, but in addition to Lukas' star performances (and despite Davis’ tearful hand-wringing) a cast of adult supporting actors—Beulah Bondi as a French housekeeper; George Coulouris as the slimy Count Brancovis; Canadian Donald Woods as Sarah’s brother; Geraldine Fitzgerald as the count’s unhappy wife; Lucile Watson as a fastidious matriarch—keep things running smoothly. And Hammett’s passionate screenplay takes the usual morale-boosting homilies inherent in these films and turns them into something far more moving with Lukas and Davis delivering soliloquies aimed directly at complacent American audiences while Hellman’s words highlight the stark contrast between those safely at home in the West and those who’ve already had two World Wars dumped directly onto their doorsteps.

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lindy919
Aug 03, 2019

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If my family was half as annoying as this family I would be tempted to turn them over to the Germans. I didn't last 15 minutes it was so bad.
.

a
akirakato
Dec 08, 2016

This is a 1943 American war-time drama directed by Herman Shumlin, based on the 1941 play of the same title by Lillian Hellman.
It appears like a propaganda against the Nazis.
Teck searches the Mullers' room and discovers a gun and money intended to finance underground operations in Germany.
Shortly after, the Mullers learn resistance worker Max Freidank has been arrested.
Because he once rescued Kurt from the Gestapo, Kurt plans to return to Germany to assist Max and those arrested with him.
Since this in NOT a play, Max Freidank should've appeared on the screen.
An ending has been given the picture which advances the story a few months and shows the wife preparing to let her older son follow his father back to Europe.
Although I see some heroism here, this seems dramatically superfluous and abrupt.
After all, the screenplay seems poorly developed.
This is the reason, I think, the film seems like an enriched version of the play without actions rather than a full-scale movie.

voisjoe1 Jun 14, 2014

Watch on the Rhine depicts two different familes in the 1930’s. One fleeing from Europe and trying to escape the cruelties, death, and destruction that is being wrought by the fascists of Germany, Italy and Spain. The other family is living in America and is totally oblivious to the horrors being visited upon their European relatives. When the two families meet in the USA, we get a lot of babbling, inane conversation by the Americans. That will seem boring, but maybe the point is that while some live bored out of their wits, people in their midst are being threatened by death. This movie was made in Hollywood in 1943. The depiction of African-Americans at this time were of three possibilities – 1) Buffoons, 2) Servants for rich white people, 3) Non-existent. We see mostly 2) which I suppose is better than 1) and 3). Note that a murder goes unpunished near the end of the film. Maybe this passed the Hays Code as it was committed behind a closed door. Paul Lukas won an Oscar for best actor for his incredible stoic performance of a man staring death in the face.

jpozenel Jun 08, 2014

Some good acting, but the dialog is that of a World War II American propaganda soap opera. Such films were seen as necessary at the time, but would probably not go over so well these days.

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