5.8/10
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7 user 13 critic

Margin for Error (1943)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, War | 10 February 1943 (USA)
It is a toss-up as to who is most displeased when Patrolman Moe Finkelstein is given the duty of guarding the German consulate run by Karl Baumer; neither Moe nor Baumer is too happy with ... See full summary »

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

Clare Boothe Luce (play) (as Clare Boothe), Lillie Hayward (screenplay) (as Lillian Hayward)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Bennett ... Sophia Baumer
Milton Berle ... Moe Finkelstein
Otto Preminger ... Karl Baumer
Carl Esmond ... Baron Max von Alvenstor (as Charles Esmond)
Howard Freeman ... Otto Horst
Liesl Handl ... Frieda (as Poldy Dur)
Clyde Fillmore Clyde Fillmore ... Dr. Jennings
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ludwig Donath ... Hitler's Voice (as Louis Donath)
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Storyline

It is a toss-up as to who is most displeased when Patrolman Moe Finkelstein is given the duty of guarding the German consulate run by Karl Baumer; neither Moe nor Baumer is too happy with this turn of events. Moe, however, quickly becomes friends with the other residents of the consulate: Sophie Baumer, the consul's wife; the secretary, Baron Max Von Alvenstor; and a pretty maid named Frieda. Moe senses an underlying tension that is not entirely accounted for by the gathering clouds of war. The gambling-loving Baumer has lost a large sum of money belonging to the German government, Sophie has learned to hate her husband and what he stands for, and Baron Max has fallen in love with her. Max confronts Baumer with the discrepancy in the consulate's funds, and Baumer threatens to inform Berlin that one of Max's grandparents was not "Aryan." The arrival of a group of Nazi saboteurs and the insistence they be given the funds to finance their project stirs consulate affairs even further. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

german | baron | saboteur | nazi | evil man | See All (51) »

Taglines:

You'll Howl With Glee as This N.Y. Cop Takes Over! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

10 February 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Margen de error See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The pinball machine that Finkelstein and Frieda play in the drugstore is an electro-mechanical "Twin Six" (1941) manufactured by J.H. Keeney & Co Inc. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Preminger: Anatomy of a Filmmaker (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Berle Is Wide of the Margin, but Bennett and Preminger Are Great!
11 August 2008 | by JohnHowardReidSee all my reviews

Preminger also starred and directed the stage play which ran highly successful seasons both on Broadway (264 performances) and the West Coast, so he was a natural for the movie version. Unfortunately, the play is more than a trifle dated, unlike Mrs Luce's other huge stage success, The Women, which is still pointed and amusing even today. By contrast, the women in Margin for Error are not the least bitchy, feline or self-indulgent. Instead, the comedy (such as it is) centers on the efforts of a Jewish cop to come to terms with his duties at the German consulate. He smiles a lot, wins the heart of a serving girl (the lovely Leisl Handl) and has plenty to say and do, but Milton Berle's interpretation never strikes me as either the slightest bit policeman-like or true-to-life. Otto Preminger's portrait of the evil consul is equally one-dimensional, but at least he gives the role presence and charisma. While Preminger rivets attention, Berle is just plain dish-washy. Admittedly, the plot is full of holes, and the other police officers are likewise ridiculously simple-minded. Thank goodness the rest of the cast are better served by the script, particularly Howard Freeman in his best role ever as the strutting, cowardly Mussolini-like bund leader; dashing Carl Esmond as the secretary; and beautiful Joan Bennett as the wife. Production values, led by Cronjager's velvety photography and Day's appealing sets, impress


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