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Watch on the Rhine (1943)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  27 August 1943 (USA)
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Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe. A Romanian Count living there discovers Kurt's attache case full ... See full summary »


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(screen play), (additional scenes and dialogue), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lucile Watson ...
George Coulouris ...
Donald Woods ...
Phili Von Ramme
Donald Buka ...
Italian Man
Helmut Dantine ...
Young Man
Clyde Fillmore ...
Sam Chandler
Erwin Kalser ...
Dr. Klauber
Kurt Katch ...
Herr Blecher


Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe. A Romanian Count living there discovers Kurt's attache case full of money. He also finds out from friends at the German Embassy that Kurt is working with an anti-Nazi underground group in Germany. He tries to blackmail Kurt. Kurt shoots him and must flee. When Sara hears no more of Kurt, she knows that her oldest son Joshua will soon leave to work in the underground. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


On her lonesome lips a smile.




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

27 August 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Wacht am Rhein  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Bette Davis fought hard with the studio about putting her name as top billing, as she knew her part was essentially a supporting role. However, this was a fight that she lost as the studio rightly figured that people would queue up to see a Bette Davis movie as opposed to a Paul Lukas one. See more »


During the breakfast scene between Beulah Bondi and Lucile Watson, Watson's hair keeps changing between medium and close shots (from behind): It is much flatter in the scenes shot close. See more »


Fanny Farrelly: Because it's Anise's birthday, I shall go and buy presents for everybody. We always do that here. It started because I don't like not getting presents on other people's birthday.
See more »


Referenced in The Doughgirls (1944) See more »


America, My Country 'Tis of Thee
(1832) (uncredited)
Music attributed to Henry Carey ("God Save the King!") (1744)
Played often in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

Fighting fascism
3 May 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Lillian Hellman, one of America's most famous women playwrights, was a woman with a mission. Her leftist views were not well regarded at the time in the country. In her memoir, she recounts her trip to the then, Soviet Union, as she was intrigued with the so called successes achieved by that system. "Watch on the Rhine" must have come as a result of those years. The left wing in America, as all over the world had an issue with the rise of fascism, not only in Europe, but in Japan as well.

"Watch on the Rhine" was a play produced on Broadway eight months before the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. In it Ms. Hellman was heralding America's entrance in World War II. The adaptation is credited to Ms. Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, her long time companion. As directed for the screen by Herman Shumlin, the film was well received when it premiered in 1943.

We are introduced to the Muller family, when the film opens. They are crossing the border to the United States from Mexico. They are to continue toward Mrs. Muller's home in Washington, D.C., where her mother, Fanny Farrelly, is a minor celebrity hostess. The Mullers, we realize are fleeing Europe because of the persecution there against the opponents of the advancing totalitarian regime in Germany. In fact, we thought, in a way, the Mullers could have been better justified if they were Jewish, fleeing from a sure extermination.

We find out that Mr. Muller has had a terrible time in his native land, as well as in other places because his outspokenness in denouncing Fascim. Little does he know that he is coming to his mother-in-law's house that is housing one of the worst exponents of that philosophy.

The film offers excellent acting all around. It is a curiosity piece because of Bette Davis' supporting role. Paul Lukas, repeating his Broadway role, is quite convincing as Kurt Muller, the upright man that wants to make a better world for himself and his family. Mr. Lukas does a great job portraying Kurt Muller, repeating the role that made him a stage luminary on Broadway.

The other best performance is by Lucile Watson, who plays Fanny Farrelly, the matriarch of this family. Geraldine Fitzgerald is seen as Marthe de Brancovis, a guest of the Farrellys, married to the contemptible Teck de Brancovis, a Nazi sympathizer, played by George Coulouris. Beulah Bondi, Donald Woods, and the rest of the supporting cast give good performances guided by Mr. Shumlin.

The film should serve as a reminder about the evils of totalitarian rule, no matter where.

35 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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