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Fugitive Road (1934)

 -  Drama  -  22 August 1934 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 12 users  
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An Austrian officer must face up to the good and evil aspects of his own personality as he becomes involved in a war.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(story), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Fugitive Road (1934)

Fugitive Road (1934) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Hauptmann Oswald Von Traunsee
Wera Engels ...
Sonya Valinoff
Leslie Fenton ...
Frank Riker
George Humbert ...
Papa Vinocchio
Hank Mann ...
Johann, Traunsee's orderly
Harry Holman ...
Burgomaster
Ferdinand Schumann-Heink ...
Doctor
Michael Visaroff ...
Police capt. with moustache
Wilhelm von Brincken ...
Lieutenant Berne (as William von Brincken)
Harry Allen ...
Herbert Smythe, ambulance driver
Anna Demetrio ...
Mama Vinocchio
Leonid Kinskey ...
Nicholas Petrovich, tall smuggler
Florence Enright ...
Burgomaster's Wife
Harry Schultz ...
Sergeant
Edith Kingdon ...
Tourist
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Storyline

An Austrian officer must face up to the good and evil aspects of his own personality as he becomes involved in a war.

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Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 August 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fugitive Road  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Von Stroheim the Great Ghost-Director?!
29 April 2013 | by (LI, NY) – See all my reviews

What an interesting independent feature from 1934 this is! It stars Erich Von Stroheim as an officer of the Austrian military who runs a transit post on the border of his country. The film is a classic example of the values and chivalry of Von Stroheim's films dealing with the WWI era.

The film centers around the different people who are detained at the Austrian outpost due to their passports not being accepted. One man is an American gangster played by Leslie Fenton. Another is a Hungarian (though actually Russian) young woman named Sonya played by Wera Engels. Other characters include an Italian man with his wife and 6 (soon to be 7) children, two con men trying to smuggle diamonds and Von Stroheim's hapless attendant. In terms of story, the film tries to be a sort of "Grand Hotel" in 65 minutes and with probably less than a tenth of the budget. Obviously, it wasn't going to reach an ambitious height. What makes this interesting is they had good actors and Von Stroheim's involvement.

Directed by Frank Strayer, who was always capable of getting a good basic story on camera, the film revolves around the interest that both Von Stroheim's Commandant and Fenton's gangster have in the beautiful young lady. The commandant doesn't accept her passport so at every chance he can attempt to forcibly charm her into staying with him. The gangster hears her sad story of trying to go to America and faces off against the commandant to save her from him. It comes down to a question of honor and there is some surprise in the resolution from "The man you love to hate".

It has been written that Von Stroheim ghost-directed this film and/or was also a technical adviser. In fact, his IMDb page states this as being the last "directorial" effort from this legend. There seems to be some proof of that in the finished product. There are plenty of his trademarks. In the opening we see great details of him breaking down troops in the ranks for poor uniforms. He has a personal attendant whom he always berates for his ineptness or ignorance to formality. His commandant is a high-ranking military man with a short Prussian haircut and wears a monocle. There is the story device of an ambulance (faked by the con men) trying to pass through and of course the Austrian border setting is very much in keeping with his style.

Also, there are some great character details that seem totally from Von Stroheim, such as in his character's introduction when his face is covered with a cheap pulp detective magazine as he is passed out on the couch. Hilariously his character turns on a dime to berate his servant for handing him a less decorated jacket before he first meets the young lady only to have his servant spray the underarms of the more formal coat with cologne to remove the odor - these details seem to be Von Stroheim admitting to the audience he is 'slumming' in this picture. The film is chocked full of great little moments such as these and little bits get revealed with each viewing.

Despite some of the nice details mentioned and some very good effort at set decor, Fugitive Road still looks very low budget. There are some story holes and most of all the current print available from Alpha has poor sound. This is tough because about a quarter of the film is not in English, and nearly every character has a foreign accent. However, again this is turned around into something interesting in that this film, made in Hollywood in 1934, would have so many scenes with foreign languages spoken and no translation. This is not a classic and perhaps boring on a light viewing, but beneath there is much to see and hear. Erich Von Stroheim didn't seem to have had involvement with the camera, but in terms of character, story details and decor he seems to have had much influence.


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