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The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 14 April 1943 and closed 17 June 1944 after 500 performances. The opening night cast included Skip Homeier as Emil and Edit Angold as Frieda, each of whom later reprised their stage roles for the film,, and Ralph Bellamy as Mike Frame, Shirley Booth as Leona Richards and Kathryn Givney as Jessie Frame. Producer Lester Cowan bought the rights to the play for $75,000 plus 25% of the gross, not to exceed $350,000. He wanted to change the title of the movie to "The Intruder," but a poll of exhibitors voted him down. See more »
When Emil appears in his Nazi uniform, the shirt and pants are those of the Hitler Youth (which is appropriate for someone his age). However, the armband is not that of the Hitler Youth (alternating red and white bands with a swastika inside a white diamond), but that of a regular party member (solid red background with a swastika in a white circle). He would not have been eligible for full party membership - and the party armband - until his 18th birthday. See more »
A Nazi youth is taken in by his American uncle and his family.
As a kid, the movie scared the wits out of me. I was about the same age as Homeier, but he was so unlike any kid I'd ever seen, it was like an alien intrusion into familiar surroundings. It's certainly an electrifying performance. His authoritarian side is absolutely convincing, with the best heel-clicking this side of Konrad Veidt.
I suspect there's something of a post-war subtext to the film even though it was made in the war year of 1944. The big question posed by post-war planning and the movie is whether Nazis are reformable. That is, can a democracy succeed in a German nation where the Third Reich has sunk its roots. This was an important political question once it became apparent the Allies would win the war. In the movie, it's a question of whether the thoroughly indoctrinated Emil (Homeier) can be Americanized by the all-American Frame family. If he can't, then symbolically there will be great difficulty in de-Nazifying a post-war Germany. Anyway, I suggest this as something of a subtext to the movie as a whole.
It's a fine cast that creates a lively household, especially little Joan Carroll as Pat. Her energetic, forgiving spirit amounts to a persuasive contrast to the robotic Emil. For this now geezer, it was nostalgic revisiting the youth and fashions of the period (minus Emil, of course). Too bad Homeier never got the credit as an actor that he deserved. That's probably because he was so good at playing dislikable characters, as a succession of Westerns and crime films of the 1950's demonstrate. Here, he's practically the whole show, in a part that's unforgettable once you've seen it. I know it's been so for me.
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