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Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)

Approved | | Drama, War | 6 May 1939 (USA)
FBI agent Ed Renard investigates the pre-War espionage activities of the German-American Bund.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Schneider
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Schlager
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Dr. Kassell
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Attorney Kellogg
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Hilda Kleinhauer
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Erika Wolf
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Mrs. Schneider
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British Military Intelligence Agent
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Mrs. Kassell (as Celia Sibelius)
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Werner Renz
...
Krogman (as Sig Rumann)
Lionel Royce ...
Hintze
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Wildebrandt
...
Helldorf (as Hans von Twardowski)
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THEY don't want you to see this picture!

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Confessione di una spia nazista  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Adolf Hitler reportedly planned to execute the makers of this film upon winning the war. See more »

Goofs

According to the film the spies are allegedly working for "German Naval Intelligence." In reality no such agency ever existed. The Abwehr was the joint intelligence service that coordinated foreign espionage for the entire German military. Before and during most of WWII the Abwehr was headed by Adm. Wilhelm Canaris. Also, Canaris and Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, detested one another and would never have cooperated as shown in the film (the producers may not have known this in 1939.) See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: 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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Connections

Referenced in McMillan & Wife: Blues for Sally M. (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

German National Anthem (Das Lied der Deutschen)
(1797) (uncredited)
Music by Joseph Haydn
Played at the New York Bund rally
Reprised at the rally in Stuttgart, Germany
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User Reviews

 
Nazis in the U.S.
24 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Edward G. Robinson, Francis Lederer, Paul Lukas and George Sanders star in "Confessions of a Nazi Spy," a 1939 film done in anticipation of the United States becoming involved in World War II. There was a proliferation of the German-American bundts, and Hitler was using them to spread Nazi propaganda in the U.S. Robinson, as an FBI man, is brought in to head an investigation of spy activities.

The film is done in semi-documentary style - sort of a dramatized documentary. Sanders is the head of one such bundt, and he sports a short haircut and a very convincing German accent. Lederer plays a amateur spy in it for the money and the power trip, and Lukas is a doctor who hides behind his profession but is really an impassioned believer in the Reich who helps get the spy material through. All of the performances are very good and hit the right tone.

"Confessions of a Nazi Spy" is heavy on the propaganda as should be expected, warning the country that there are Nazis everywhere. Were there? Hard to say but given the Germans who emigrated to the U.S. who still had families back home, it's entirely possible.

The most interesting thing about the film was that all these Nazi infiltrators were living on U.S. soil expressing belief in the Reich and Hitler - yet each time one of them was told they had to return to Germany, the blood drained from their faces and they begged to stay in the U.S.! Interesting film, as are many of the films that preceded the U.S. involvement in World War II.


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