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Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War  |  6 May 1939 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 894 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 6 critic

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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Title: Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Edward Renard
...
Schneider
...
Schlager
...
Dr. Kassell
Henry O'Neill ...
Attorney Kellogg
Dorothy Tree ...
Hilda Kleinhauer
Lya Lys ...
Erika Wolf
Grace Stafford ...
Mrs. Schneider
James Stephenson ...
British Military Intelligence Agent
Hedwiga Reicher ...
Mrs. Kassell (as Celia Sibelius)
Joe Sawyer ...
Werner Renz
Sig Ruman ...
Krogman (as Sig Rumann)
Lionel Royce ...
Hintze
...
Wildebrandt
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ...
Helldorf (as Hans von Twardowski)
Edit

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

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

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the book "The Films of World War II" by Joe Morella, Edward Z. Epstein and John Griggs, "While this Warner Bros. film was not as sensational as its advance publicity led audiences of the day to expect, it was, nevertheless, the first out-and-out anti-Nazi film from a major American studio . . . [it] made its point by sticking closely to the facts of a real-life spy trial which had involved high officials in the [German Third] Reich as well as their American operatives . . . This film was instrumental in bringing about the 'Hollywood war-mongering' charges. Actors and producers received murder threats. American-based German officials screamed 'conspiracy!' and the film was subsequently banned by countries who feared offending Germany. In the United States, however, it was a popular success, prompting other studios to hurry production of more anti-Hitler films." See more »

Goofs

In one scene there is a large sign on a fence reading, "Fort Wentworth Base Hospital." The Army does not refer to its installations as "bases." A correct sign would have read "Post Hospital." 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

Featured in Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

America
(uncredited)
aka "My Country 'tis of Thee"
Melody from "God Save the King"
Traditional
Played as background music when the Statue of Liberty is shown
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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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