Above Suspicion (1943 film)

Last updated

Above Suspicion
600full-above-suspicion-poster.jpg
1943 US theatrical poster
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Written by Keith Winter
Melville Baker
Patricia Coleman
Leonard Lee (uncredited)
Based onAbove Suspicion (1941 novel)
by Helen MacInnes
Produced by Victor Saville
Starring Joan Crawford
Fred MacMurray
Conrad Veidt
Basil Rathbone
Cinematography Robert Planck
Edited by George Hively
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Production
company
Distributed by Loew's Inc. [1]
Release date
  • May 1943 (1943-05)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Above Suspicion is a 1943 American spy film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray. The screenplay was adapted from the 1941 novel Above Suspicion by Scots-American writer Helen MacInnes, which is loosely based on the experiences of MacInnes and her husband Gilbert Highet.

Contents

The plot follows two newlyweds who spy on the Nazis for the British secret service during their honeymoon in Europe.

Plot

In the spring of 1939 in England, Oxford University professor Richard Myles and his new bride Frances spend their honeymoon in continental Europe. They are commissioned by the British secret service to find a scientist who has developed a countermeasure against a new Nazi secret weapon, a magnetic sea mine. [2] Without knowing his name, what he looks like or where to find the scientist, the couple look upon the search as an adventure and cross Europe seeking clues from clandestine contacts.

In Paris, Frances is given a hat decorated with a rose as a signal for their first contact, who silently instructs them to go to a café in Montmartre. An unseen contact plants a tourist guidebook to southern Germany in Richard's coat. The couple notice a series of ink dots on a map in the book, which, linked together, form a musical staff with the opening notes to the song "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose." They deduce that this is their password. Three pinpricks in the same map direct them to the book's seller, A. Werner, in Salzburg. Werner instructs them to go to a certain museum, where a man named Count Hassert Seidel, calling himself a "guide," suggests that they check into a guest house run by Frau Kleist. She provides them with a book on Franz Liszt with annotations that reveal that their next stop should be the village of Pertisau in Tyrol, where they should inquire about a doctor who collects chess pieces.

Some days later, Richard and Frances attend a performance of Liszt's music. During a passage that Thornley had been practicing earlier, a Nazi commandant is shot and killed. Officials insist on questioning each member of the audience. Richard and Frances are rescued by Gestapo chief Count Sig von Aschenhausen, a former Oxford schoolmate of Richard's. Thornley killed the Nazi colonel as revenge for the torture and murder of his Austrian fiancée.

Frances and Richard visit the home of chess collector Dr. Mespelbrunn and von Aschenhausen is there. They notice sheet music for "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose" on the piano. But when von Aschenhausen fails to respond to a code signal that Richard gives him, the couple become suspicious. They hear thumping noises upstairs and discover that von Aschenhausen is holding Mespelbrunn prisoner. Mespelbrunn tells them to run and that they are being hunted by the Gestapo. Frances and Richard leave the house just in time, and Count Seidel arrives to help them free Mespelbrunn. He is revealed as the missing scientist, Dr. Smith. All four head for Innsbruck, and Mespelbrunn gives Richard the plans for the countermeasure.

The couple obtain counterfeit passports from the Schultzes, an elderly couple. They are planning to catch the train to Milan at separate stations, but, when the Schultzes are arrested by the Gestapo, the police are on the lookout for the Americans. Frances is detained and questioned by the Gestapo, but Thornley, in Innsbruck to catch the same train, finds Richard. Richard, Thornley and Seidel gain entry to where Frances is being held and kill her captors, including von Aschenhausen, but Thornley is also killed. After fooling the Nazi border guards, Seidel and the American newlyweds reach freedom in Italy.

Cast

This film marked the end of Crawford's 18-year career with MGM before she signed with Warner Bros. [3] It was Veidt's last role, as he died from a heart attack several weeks after shooting had ended. [4]

Reception

Variety wrote: "Both MacMurray and Miss Crawford completely handled their roles, despite drawbacks of script material", and T.S. in The New York Times commented, "Joan Crawford...is a very convincing heroine." [5]

Critic Howard Barnes wrote in the New York Herald Tribune : "There are so many floral, musical and cryptographical passwords in the film's plot that the whole show becomes a sort of super treasure hunt... Unfortunately, neither Joan Crawford nor Fred MacMurray looks quite bright enough to unravel the tangled skeins of this screen melodrama." [3]

Home media

The film was released on Region 1 DVD on April 6, 2010 as part of the Warner Bros. Archive Collection.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fred MacMurray</span> American actor (1908–1991)

Frederick Martin MacMurray was an American actor. He appeared in more than one hundred films and a successful television series, in a career that spanned nearly a half-century. His career as a major film leading man began in 1935, but his most renowned role was in Billy Wilder's film noir Double Indemnity. During 1959–1973, MacMurray appeared in numerous Disney films, including The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Follow Me, Boys!, and The Happiest Millionaire. He played Steve Douglas in the television series My Three Sons.

<i>Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid</i> 1982 film by Carl Reiner

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is a 1982 American neo-noir mystery comedy film directed, co-written by, and co-starring Carl Reiner and co-written by and starring Steve Martin. Co-starring Rachel Ward, the film is both a parody of and a homage to film noir and the pulp detective films of the 1940s. The title refers to Martin's character telling a story about a woman obsessed with plaid in a scene that was ultimately cut from the film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Helen MacInnes</span> Biographical overview of Helen Clark MacInnes, author of espionage novels.

Helen Clark MacInnes was a Scottish-American writer of espionage novels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Thorpe</span> American actor and film director

Richard Thorpe was an American film director best known for his long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The Solf Circle was an informal gathering of German intellectuals involved in the resistance against Nazi Germany. Most members were arrested and executed after attending a tea party in Berlin on 10 September 1943 at the residence of Elisabeth von Thadden. The group's downfall also ultimately led to the demise of the Abwehr in February 1944.

<i>Arch of Triumph</i> (1984 film) 1984 British TV series or program

Arch of Triumph is a 1984 British television film by Harlech Television. It is based on the novel Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front. The novel was previously adapted in 1948 for a film of the same name with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. It was released on 19 December 1984 in the UK, and on 29 May 1985 in the US.

<i>Collaborator</i> (novel) Book by Murray Davies

Collaborator is an alternate history novel by Murray Davies, published as a hardcover on 19 September 2003 and released in paperback in the United Kingdom and the United States in September 2004. The novel is set in a Nazi-occupied Great Britain in 1940 and 1941. It chronicles life during this period primarily through the experiences of Nick Penny, the collaborator of the novel's title.

<i>Family Honeymoon</i> 1949 film by Claude Binyon

Family Honeymoon is a 1949 domestic comedy film made by Universal International, directed by Claude Binyon, and written by Dane Lussier, based on novel by Homer Croy. It was shot in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

<i>Forsaking All Others</i> 1934 film by W. S. Van Dyke

Forsaking All Others is a 1934 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by W.S. Van Dyke, and starring Robert Montgomery, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. The screenplay was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, which was based upon a 1933 play by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett starring Tallulah Bankhead.

<i>Reunion in France</i> 1942 feature film directed by Jules Dassin

Reunion in France is a 1942 American war film distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Joan Crawford, John Wayne, and Philip Dorn in a story about a woman in occupied France who, learning her well-heeled lover has German connections, aids a downed American flyer. Ava Gardner appears in a small uncredited role as a Parisian shopgirl. The movie was directed by Jules Dassin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victims of the Night of the Long Knives</span>

The Night of the Long Knives was a purge in which Adolf Hitler and the regime of Nazi Germany targeted members of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, as well as past opponents of the party. At least 85 people were murdered in the purge, which took place between 30 June and 2 July 1934.

<i>Joan of Paris</i> 1942 film by Robert Stevenson

Joan of Paris is a 1942 war film about five Royal Air Force pilots shot down over Nazi-occupied France during World War II and their attempt to escape to England. It stars Michèle Morgan and Paul Henreid, with Thomas Mitchell, Laird Cregar and May Robson in her last role.

<i>Secret Command</i> 1944 film by A. Edward Sutherland

Secret Command is a 1944 American drama war film directed by A. Edward Sutherland and starring Pat O'Brien and Carole Landis. It was nominated for the Oscar for Best Effects in 1945.

<i>Ghosts on the Loose</i> 1943 film by William Beaudine

Ghosts on the Loose is a 1943 American comedy horror film and the fourteenth film in the East Side Kids series, directed by William Beaudine. The picture co-stars horror film icon Bela Lugosi as well as Ava Gardner in one of her earliest roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bruce Lester</span>

Bruce Lester was a South African-born English film actor with over 60 screen appearances to his credit between 1934 and his retirement from acting in 1958. Lester's career divided into two distinct periods. Between 1934 and 1938, billed as Bruce Lister, he appeared in upwards of 20 British films, mostly of the cheaply shot and quickly forgotten quota quickie variety. He then moved to the US, where he changed his surname to Lester, and found himself for a time appearing in some of the biggest prestige productions of their day, alongside stars such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. Lester himself never achieved star-billing, but was said to have remarked that this at least meant that if a film was a flop, no blame ever fell on his shoulders.

<i>A Millionaire for Christy</i> 1951 film by George Marshall

A Millionaire for Christy is a 1951 comedy film directed by George Marshall, and starring Fred MacMurray and Eleanor Parker. The film is a screwball comedy, in which Christy Sloane (Parker) is a legal secretary from San Francisco who is sent to Los Angeles to inform radio host Peter Lockwood (MacMurray) that he has just inherited $2 million.

<i>Jeder stirbt für sich allein</i> (1962 film) 1962 film by Falk Harnack

Jeder stirbt für sich allein is a 1962 West German made for television political drama film based on a best-selling 1947 novel by Hans Fallada, itself based on the true story of a working class couple, Otto and Elise Hampel, who committed acts of civil disobedience against the government of Nazi Germany and were executed. Directed by former German Resistance member Falk Harnack—whose brother, sister-in-law and cousins were executed during the Nazi regime—it was the first screen adaptation of Fallada's novel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Felix Basch</span> Austrian actor

Felix Basch (1885–1944) was an American-Austrian actor, screenwriter and film director.

<i>Madame Spy</i> (1942 film) 1942 film by Roy William Neill

Madame Spy is a 1942 American spy film directed by Roy William Neill and starring Constance Bennett, Don Porter and John Litel. The screenplay concerns an American intelligence officer who goes undercover and infiltrates a ring of Nazi spies.

<i>Target Unknown</i> 1951 film by George Sherman

Target Unknown is a 1951 American war film directed by George Sherman and starring Mark Stevens, Alex Nicol and Robert Douglas. An American bomber crew are forced to bail out over Occupied France in 1944 and are captured by the Germans, who subject them to strenuous interrogation. The film begins with a written foreword that reads: "In the making of this picture, the cooperation of the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force is gratefully acknowledged."

References

  1. Above Suspicion at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1968). Hollywood in the Forties. London: A. Zwemmer Limited. p. 92. ISBN   978-0-498-06928-4.
  3. 1 2 "Above Suspicion". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  4. Bret, David (2006). Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr, Da Capo Press, ISBN   0-306-81624-5, pp. 149–151
  5. Quirk, Lawrence J.. The Films of Joan Crawford. The Citadel Press, 1968.