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Watch on the Rhine (1943) Poster

Trivia

Lucille Watson recreated her stage role of Fanny Farelly in this film and earned an academy award nomination as best supporting actress.
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Bette Davis didn't get on with her co-star Lucile Watson who played her mother in the film. In real life, Watson was a staunch Republican and held many opposite views to Davis.
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Bette Davis repeatedly clashed with director Herman Shumlin throughout production. A novice film director, he had no real experience on a film set and certainly none in dealing with a prima donna actress like Davis. Producer Hal B. Wallis was forced to lean hard on Shumlin when he saw how over the top Davis was in her performance.
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This adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play was written by her longtime companion, Dashiell Hammett. Hellman was unable to write the adaptation herself as she was contracted to work on the screenplay for The North Star (1943). She recommended that Hammett be given the assignment as he was very familiar with the material. (Hammett also needed the money.)
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Bette Davis gladly took on a supporting role as she wanted audiences to see what she considered to be a very important film and also because she admired Lillian Hellman's writing having recently worked on the film version of Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941).
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"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 10, 1944 with Bette Davis and Paul Lukas reprising their film roles.
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"Academy Award Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on August 7, 1946 with Paul Lukas reprising his film role.
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The play, "Watch on the Rhine" by Lillian Hellman premiered at the Martin Beck Theater in New York City on 1 April 1941 and closed on 21 February 1942 after 378 performances. Paul Lukas as Kurt Muller, Lucile Watson as Fanny Farrelly, George Coulouris as Teck de Brancovis, Eric Roberts as Bodo Muller and Frank L. Wilson as Joseph all originated their movie roles in the play. Also in the cast were Mady Christians as Sara Muller and Helen Trenholme as Marthe de Brancovis.
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Ann Blyth played the daughter, Babette, in the original stage play.
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Jack L. Warner paid $150,000 for the rights to the play which had enjoyed a successful run on Broadway. Warner had great faith in the material, feeling that its patriotic nature would go down well with wartime audiences.
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Producer Hal B. Wallis originally wanted Charles Boyer for the male lead before deciding that Boyer's French accent would prove counter-productive. Instead, he went with Paul Lukas who had originated the role on Broadway.
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Pre-production on the film had to be halted whilst writer Dashiell Hammett recovered from a bad back. By the time he was able to resume work some months later, the production of Now, Voyager (1942) had concluded and Bette Davis was now available.
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A staunch anti-Nazi campaigner, Bette Davis immediately signed on when she read the script.
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Director Herman Shumlin was most unhappy with his initial director of photography Merritt B. Gerstad who was eventually replaced by Hal Mohr.
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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.
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Paul Lukas won the very first Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
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A first time film director, Herman Shumlin had to be constantly reminded that he couldn't do repeated takes of each scene as there was a war on and celluloid film had to be rationed.
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Head of the Production Code Joseph Breen objected to the scene where the family are given a tour of the house, including the bathroom which initially had a clear shot of a toilet.
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Bette Davis was the original choice for the female lead but as she was still involved with making Now, Voyager (1942), other actresses were approached. Irene Dunne expressed some interest but felt that the role was too small whilst Margaret Sullavan turned the part down flat. Edna Best, Rosemary DeCamp and Helen Hayes were also considered.
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