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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am usually pretty critical of films compared to the average contributor to IMDb, though this is a bit unusual because I apparently liked this movie a lot more than the average viewer. Although I admit that the movie in a few places was a bit rough (such as the whole idea of using Amnesia for a plot device and the sloppy use of stock footage towards the end of the movie), the film was a major improvement over the usual WWII American propaganda flick. My love for this genre and the fact that I always try to find and watch as many of these films as possible makes my perspective a little different than some viewers. Compared to other similar films, the German spies are actually a lot more believable and less stupid than usual. Plus, although the movie definitely starts off poorly and seems contrived, as the film progressed it got much, much better--and offered a lot of great twists and turns that actually surprised me (and this DOESN'T happen a lot with these WWII films). A lot of my being pleasantly surprised is because I initially hated the film when they introduced the whole Amnesia element (it's overused and rarely actually seen by doctors). But, when the Amnesia was only very temporary and Ms. Coleman PRETENDED to have no memory, that made it a little more believable. The film's conclusion is also great--featuring a wonderful confrontation. An excellent and underrated film that is lots of fun.
Nancy Coleman plays an British agent based in Washington D.C during the
Second World War who has some vital information about Allied convoys
German agents are keen to get their hot and sticky little hands on it and none too scrupulous about how they do it .They capture her but she escapes from their clutches only to be involved in an auto accident which leaves her concussed and with memory loss, Enter John Garfield as the intern in charge of her case .He facilitates her recovery but -suspecting many of the people who claim to know her are in fact Nazi agents -she continues to feign amnesia .She is taken into a private sanatorium by an eminent psychologist ( Raymond Massey ) who is a Nazi agent and which turns out to be a prison in all but name .All the servants and other help are "de facto" wardens and the last part of the movie deals with the attempt of Coleman and Garfield to escape and prevent the bad guys extracting the vital information from them Garfield was unenthusiastic about doing this movie -and agreed to do so only because he could not afford another suspension by the studio .It shows in a lacklustre performance and Raymond Massey has no problem stealing the acting honours in what is a proficient but minor Warner Brothers melodrama -watchable but not exceptional
It's not Hitchcock quality, but this yarn about World War II espionage
in New York is fast-paced fun. It lives up to its intriguing title.
Nancy Coleman plays a beautiful British agent who's hiding a big secret and trying to keep one step ahead of the Nazis. When she briefly lands in a hospital, she fakes amnesia to fool her pursuers, then confides in a young intern (played by John Garfield). Though he likes her looks, he doesn't believe a word of her story, and the two find themselves in plenty of hot water before they finally turn into an effective team.
I have read that Garfield resented having to make this movie. Maybe he preferred "serious" films to escapism, but maybe he just disliked the character he played. The young intern is really dimwitted. It takes clue after clue to convince him that the conspiracy is real. And even afterward, he keeps falling for the Nazis' tricks. He's constantly exclaiming, either with words or with his facial expression, "Gosh, now I get it!" Coleman's character is the bright one. Her spy is resourceful and tough (though more reckless than she ought to be).
The villains are the real stars here. Raymond Massey is always terrific as a manipulative fiend, and Moroni Olsen keeps up with him as his fellow ringleader. When the two ruthless Nazis turn on the charm and pull the wool over decent people's eyes, you want to laugh and hiss at the same time. The contrast between their skillful charade and the transparent thuggery of their minions (played by such veteran heavies as John Harmon and Ben Welden) adds some comic relief.
The end is fairly predictable and less clever than the beginning. (This is not Hitchcock, as noted before.) But unless you truly hate romantic spy films, "Dangerously They Live" will give you a few smiles.
Working for a British group, pretty Nancy Coleman (as Jane) is
kidnapped in a New York cab. An unexpected car accident lands her in
the temporary safety of a hospital, under the care of unlikely intern
John Garfield (as Michael "Mike" Lewis). Mr. Garfield wants to
investigate Ms. Goodman because he's interested in amnesia cases.
Garfield becomes even more intrigued when Coleman tells him she's not
really forgetful, but being pursued by Nazi spies. Coleman doesn't want
to go home with the man claiming to be her father, but he produces
family pictures proving she's her daughter.
Psychic amnesia expert, and former Garfield professor, Raymond Massey (as Ingersoll) is hired as head shrink, by the wealthy Goodwin family. They have trouble getting "daughter" Coleman to return home, so Mr. Massey suggests Garfield come along as in-house physician. Garfield thinks their mansion is beautiful, but Coleman says it's a "concentration camp." It's really too bad "Dangerously They Live" makes it clear who the bad guys are, because this picture had greater potential.
Marion Parsonnet's story should have received a better treatment. It has a Hitchcockian sensibilities, but squanders much suspense potential. Imagine, for instance, a little re-writing and re-editing to make the moment Garfield receives the "Get the girl out of here - she is in grave danger" note the moment you KNOW, for sure, who is telling the truth. And, it would have been easy to adjust Garfield's "intern" character (and wardrobe) to more flatter the actor. He does as well as possible with the assignment, however. Robert Florey's direction, Coleman's debut performance, and Massey are impressive.
******* Dangerously They Live (12/24/41) Robert Florey ~ John Garfield, Nancy Coleman, Raymond Massey, Moroni Olsen
Alfred Hitchcok is not my favorite director by any means but imagine
what he could have done with this! The plot holds much potential for
suspense. John Garfield is as almost always excellent and Raymond
Massey is scarily cast against type. Nancy Coleman is not a very
impressive leading lady but the supporting cast is large and very
Yes it starts to sag fairly early. There are too many coincidences. And an important subject is trivialized by its being made into little more, in the end, than a love story.
It's fun to watch for Garfield, Massey, and the character performers. But it's not awfully good.
I was very pleased to finally see this film again after many years. I can never understand why other people complain about the storyline or some of the individual actors in the film or any other irrelevant aspect of the film without properly recognizing its significance. This film was released in 1941 at a time when world peace was being seriously threatened by some of the most evil forces then known to mankind. It was a means of conveying to as many as possible the evils of Nazism at a time when people in America were arguing, loudly by the way, that the country should remain neutral as far as the rest of the world was concerned. How people can, today, quibble about the acting abilities or weaknesses of the story line is beyond me. This was 1941 and films such as this were designed, first and foremost, to make the then-current world situation a reality for those people who didn't seem to know, or even care, about what was happening around them. In that respect, it succeeds magnificently. And how ironic that it should star John Garfield who was so hounded by the treacherous McCarthy era that he died at the unforgivable age of 39!!! Nancy Coleman, who later became the mother of twins, lived across the street from me for many years. One might, perhaps, want to think about just where our world would be today if not for the efforts of all those responsible for this unappreciated film from 1941.
This is a "spies among us" movie of World War ii with a fairly outrageous plot concerning a woman played by Nancey Coleman who may or may not be an amnesia victim who comes under the care of a young intern, John Garfield. She's been in a rather grisly taxi wreck. She has no cuts, bruises apparent, but can't remember who she is. Moroni Olsen shows up and claims to be her Father. Whenever Moroni Olsen appears in a film, you can be sure something is up. Raymond Massey is called in as a suspiciously too affable specialist. There are Nazis at work here. We know because when we are in their clubhouse behind a delicatessen, there are swastikas on the wall. Usually a dead give-away. There is a creepy mansion with a creepy staff and the butler wears a pistol under his frock coat. Robert Florey, a French director, who was never quite given his due in the studio days adds some European touches here and there, including a funny shot of a dead body rising on a silent butler. Mr. Florey does menace well.
John Garfield is an intern who cares for a young accident victim in
"Dangerously They Live," also starring Nancy Coleman, Raymond Massey,
and Moroni Olson. This looks like a B movie and is certainly short
enough to have been a second feature. This is what Warners put John
Garfield in after he made a big splash in "Four Daughters?" Jack Warner
must have been punishing him for something.
The accident victim in this film, Jane Graystone, played by Coleman, is thought to have amnesia. She is actually a spy for the U.S., and the Nazis are after information she has about a convoy in New Zealand. Moroni Olson poses as her father, a Mr. Goodwin, but she tells Dr. Lewis (Garfield) the true story and asks for his help. Garfield is a little waylaid, however, when one of his teachers, Dr. Ingersoll (Raymond Massey) appears as a doctor on the case. He doesn't realize Ingersoll is part of the Nazi team. Ingersoll allows Dr. Lewis to come "home" with Jane - but home seems more like a prison.
Massey turns in an excellent performance and is quite scary as Ingersoll. Coleman, who went on to have a career in television, is pretty, reminiscent of Barbara Rush or Piper Laurie in their youths. However, she's not as good an actress as either of those women. Garfield is appealing but this is not his kind of role. It would be a few more years before he would be given parts more suited to his abilities. Fortunately, he'd have about five years of excellent roles before the blacklist and his early death.
Though the movie was made right before Pearl Harbor, the handwriting was on the wall for the U.S. The theme of Nazis in our midst was in several films of that time, including "All Through the Night."
A somewhat awkward spy mystery with a predictable plot about World War Two dangers. The mystery is whether or not Jane Graystone (Nancy Coleman) has amnesia. The best acting is done by Raymond Massey as Dr. Ingersoll, a good doctor turned evil. He is head of a spy ring attempting to get information from amnesiac Jane, coded information related to allied activities. Will she tell? Can she remember? Moroni Olson (as Mr. Goodwin) is convincing as an accomplice to Massey. The role played by John Garfield (as Dr. Lewis) is nothing short of disastrous. He seems so badly miscast that the casting has to be ranked as one of the worst in film history. It is unfortunate that so talented an actor is stuffed into a role which not befitting his talents. The movie is worth one look, despite being a half spy and half gangster film, and despite containing a parade of stereotyped characters. It's easy to forget this one, amnesia is not necessary.
After a very clumsy start things do gradually become suspenseful and
intriguing. Although we do have the miscasting of John Garfield and a
"deer in the headlights" performance from the main female actress,
unconvincingly portraying a British spy. Fortunately, the propaganda is
not as heavy as the movies to follow once America entered the War and
the movie is better for it.
This film comes off slightly above its contemporaries because of this restraint, but seems, justifiably, rushed and not very complex. It is this lack of sophistication (all the U-Boats just float ON THE SURFACE waiting to be bombed) and some unbelievable plot turns that diminish this to a watchable period piece and kept it from becoming a more engaging and effective effort.
A potentially powerful work that the studio did not seem to embrace except as a programmer to program the audience toward and inevitable inclusion in the struggle against fascism that is marching menacingly through Europe and will soon enter our airspace the same year.
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