Monday, June 6, 2011

Double-0 Joan

We were able to get a copy of Above Suspicion when it last aired on TCM, much to our delight.  The advertisements which aired on TCM made the film seem to be a much more tongue-in-cheek story than we would have expected from a World War II vintage (1943) film, and while there are some moments that are humorous, on the whole, this movie very much reminded us of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (plug for my favorite TV show), it had those same elements of seriousness that one expects from good spy story, combined with humor. Here, we have a pair of innocents, newlyweds Frances and Richard Myles (Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray), who are recruited to locate a scientist with essential war related information.  Because they are Americans, and because they are on their honeymoon, it is believed that they are "above suspicion".  Of course, they are not, and rather rapidly they come under the eye of Count Sig von Aschenhausen (Basil Rathbone), a former classmates of Richard's who is deeply involved with the Gestapo.

There are a number of nice touches in this movie. The introduction of the character of Thornley (Bruce Lester), who also came to Germany to assist the English, and who also was considered "above suspicion", much to his sorrow makes a nice counterpoint to our couple.  Also, it was wonderful to see that excellent actor Conrad Veidt as Hassert Seidel, who is working AGAINST the Nazis.  Veidt escaped from the Nazis, yet spent most of his years in Hollywood playing rather horrid Nazis. Robert Osborne, in his introduction, reminded us that this was Veidt's last movie - he died a short time later from a massive coronary - a great loss to film. 

This was also Joan Crawford's final MGM film (and her only film with MacMurray).  She is really delightful in it.  And the ending, in which she has to assume a disguise in order to escape from he Nazis, is wonderful.  She really is convincing in her costume!  Add to all this excellent performances by Fred MacMurray and Basil Rathbone, and this is certainly a movie that is worth your time.  It was our belief that the film did not do especially well in 1943 - a shame, because it is certainly a film that keeps you interested. A truly neglected little gem.  We found a trailer for you to look at:

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