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Robert Z. Leonard
In 1939, American Tom Martin, who fought in the Spanish Civil War, awaits execution at the hands of the Fascist victors when reporter Augusta 'Gusto' Nash, for a scoop, aids him in an audacious escape. Of course, Tom tries to romance Gusto; but though she likes him, her career comes first, and Tom himself prefers freedom-fighting to settling down. Comedy becomes drama as their mixed feelings lead them on a circuitous path through the deepening chaos and catastrophe of the early days of World War II. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Mitchell Leisen was one of the few directors who could introduce tragedy into comedy and vice versa .The first part is absolutely dazzling.Incredible though it may seem ,it's full of unexpected twists,of fine lines ("it's my first execution" says the Padre /It's mine too" says the prisoner).The chemistry between Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland is perfect and their husband-and-wife act compares favorably with that of the actress as a "baroness ,her husband and her children" in "midnight" .The movie loses steam in its second part but it does show Mitchell's fondness for France .Unlike too many American movies,there are plenty of French words and the French speak French between them.I particularly like this sentence "Three sisters used to live in this country :Liberté ,Egalité Et Fraternité " as the German army is marching past the streets of Paris.This francophilia is also present in Leisen's "hold back the dawn" or "Frenchman's creek" .
The last third may be considered a propaganda one ,but many other directors (Hitchcock,Lang,Hathaway,Borzage etc) had theirs too,and Leisen's is certainly smarter than most of the others.Solomon's prayer (which provides the title) is to be taken literally.Augusta is a go-getter ,she plays the heroine just for the sake of fame .After the beautiful scene in the forest ,where the animals run for their lives ,she does arise .The scene in the Compiègne Car is as incredible as Marlene Dietrich as a gypsy entering an inn full of Nazis in "golden earrings" .But the Spanish extravagant tale had warned us:this is not to be taken seriously ,but in a way,it is.
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