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Oxford Professor Richard Myles and new bride Frances are off on a European honeymoon. It isn't your typical honeymoon though, for they are on a spying mission for British intelligence on the eve of World War 2. Written by
"Above Suspicion(1943)" was the last film Joan Crawford made under her Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract. Crawford had strictly made films for the studio since 1925. She left,because she was dissatisfied with the mundane scripts she was offered.Looking at this film,we can see her point.Here's an espionage thriller that has a great premise and a good cast,but falters midway through.The plot is basically about honeymooners(Crawford and Fred MacMurray)being ask to do spy work in Nazi Germany. They must get information about a secret German mine.Along the way,they encounter colorful characters that lead them to clues.They even witness an assassination of a German leader in an opera house.The first 45 minutes is extremely suspenseful and Crawford and MacMurray have great chemistry together.However,the rest of the film is less than plausible and the ending leaves much to be desired.The problem,though,is with the director,Richard Thorpe.Not one of MGM's best directors,Thrope puts too many unnecessary scenes in the film,that distract from the plot.In addition,he wastes the talent of some great character actors,putting them in one-dimensional roles.Basil Rathbone was great at playing sinister roles.Here he plays a conniving Nazi,but has very little to do.The major miscasting was letting Conrad Veidt play a charming spy.Veidt was marvelous at playing an acid-tongued Nazi officer,most notably in the classic,"Casablanca(1943)." In other hands like Alfred Hitchcock or Fritz Lang,this film could have been first-rate.Crawford wouldn't have a hit movie until "Mildred Pierce(1945)",where she gave perhaps the best performance of her career as a self-sacrificing mother. As it is, the film isn't a bomb,but there are much better spy thrillers out there.I give it 2 1/2 stars out of four.
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