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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
According to the book "The Films of World War II" by Joe Morella, Edward Z. Epstein and John Griggs, "While this Warner Bros. film was not as sensational as its advance publicity led audiences of the day to expect, it was, nevertheless, the first out-and-out anti-Nazi film from a major American studio . . . [it] made its point by sticking closely to the facts of a real-life spy trial which had involved high officials in the [German Third] Reich as well as their American operatives . . . This film was instrumental in bringing about the 'Hollywood war-mongering' charges. Actors and producers received murder threats. American-based German officials screamed 'conspiracy!' and the film was subsequently banned by countries who feared offending Germany. In the United States, however, it was a popular success, prompting other studios to hurry production of more anti-Hitler films." See more »
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 »
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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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 »
Hollywood produced this one as the war in Europe had barely begun and the US was a couple of years away from Pearl Harbor. They had correctly identified the threat from Nazi Germany, though, and made a pretty accurate assessment of the consequences involved. "Confessions Of A Nazi Spy" is better than it sounds, and is not a story extracted from a cheap novel.
Nutshell; Some German-Americans felt an attachment to their Fatherland at the outbreak of the war, and some bought into the narrative and became Nazi sympathizers. Schneider (Francis Lederer) is one of those. He is inspired by the speeches of Dr. Kassell (Paul Lukas) and becomes a spy - more of a messenger - for a local subversive Nazi group. He is discovered by the FBI (Edw. G. Robinson), loses his nerve and informs on the group. Any more of the plot will spoil the story.
The picture is related in semi-documentary style which gives it a patina of authenticity and is directed by Hollywood veteran Anatole Litvak, who adds the required tension and who made several noteworthy noir and crime dramas in his career. Lederer and Lukas supply the villains and Robinson the hero in this surprisingly good rendition of a story of troublesome times to come for America.
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