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In Nazi Germany in 1936 seven men escape from a concentration camp. The camp commander puts up seven crosses and, as the Gestapo returns each escapee he is put to death on a cross. The seventh cross is still empty as George Heisler seeks freedom in Holland. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At first, it seemed very much a propaganda film against the Germans, for all descriptions of Germany and its people were negative in the first part. Then, it slowly softens at the same rate as Spencer Tracy's character, George Heisler, regains his humanity.
Though it is never said outright, Tracy plays a Communist Party member (the closest they came to saying it was "anti-Nazi"), and that is why he was in a Nazi concentration camp in the first place. The roles played Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy (Paul & Liesel Roeder) were that of ordinary, hard-working Germans who didn't really care much for politics. When Heisler asks Cronyn if he likes the current government, Cronyn talks about how his wages are higher than ever before -- ignorant to the oppression happening all around him. In tougher times, Heisler had given Roeder a (Communist) pamphlet, and he recalls, "I didn't need a pamphlet -- I needed a JOB!"
Many acts of heroism help to keep Heisler alive in his struggle to escape Germany. Each of the characters have grown in their humanity. For example, the Roeders do not blame Heisler for the Gestapo calling on them and interrogating Paul (they now know the blame lies with the Nazis).
When Heisler mentions he has a debt to repay, Signe Hasso (Toni) asks, "you mean you owe money?" Heisler says, no. "Oh," Toni says, "you mean to get back at the Nazis who did this to you?" Heisler remarks, "just the opposite, my debt is to those who helped me."
The quote for the summary of this review comes from an anonymous (to Heisler) benefactor who brings Heisler his passport and instructions. He tells a story about ants in his deli working all day to move the contents of a sugar bowl to their ant hill. His metaphor means you can kill the revolutionary, but you cannot kill the revolution.
My rating: 10
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