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The Unwritten Code (1944)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 26 October 1944 (USA)



(story and screenplay), (story) (as Robert Wilmot) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
Mary Lee Norris
Sgt. Terry Hunter
Cpl. Karl Richter
Mr. Norris
Mary Currier ...
Mrs. Norris
Willie Norris
Teddy Infuhr ...
Dutchy Schultz


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Drama | Romance | War






Release Date:

26 October 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Código Desconhecido  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

There's something rotten on the North Atlantic.
17 September 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...And it's not their cheese!

This seems to be a slight rip-off of Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" (released the same year) where a Nazi man created the tension on the small lifeboat where survivors of a torpedoed ship tried in vain to get along. Walter Slezak brilliantly played that role with such craftiness that he actually appeared to be smarter than anybody else aboard. Columbia Pictures quickly put out this B picture where a Nazi prisoner (played by Roland Varno) being transferred to a prison camps in America manages to fool the Yanks by pretending to be an American soldier. This does not ring in the slightest to be true and in several sequences he shows Nazi tendencies and fails to hide his beliefs especially when he meets a German refugee who is definitely anti-Nazi.

A year before they starred in the classic film noir "Detour", Ann Savage and Tom Neal appeared in this Columbia programmer which does have some excitement but suffers from a screenplay that seems quickly put together and not thoroughly thought out. It still moves at a break neck speed and has some great editing. I find it difficult to see this as having been a success, while Varno does attempt to show both sides of the spectrum with his quiet fear hidden by arrogance, and loathing of American ideals as well as his desire to escape from his captors. It is obvious to me that the Americans who are searching for missing Nazis would easily identify him as one of them.

The goal that the film seems to be striving to present is to show Nazi's as even willing to kill their own if their secrets threaten to be revealed or if they may be converted to the American way of thinking. On the other side, the Americans are obviously not out to dispatch of the prisoners that they catch and don't even indicate a desire to retrain their thinking, but are simply holding them until the end of the war. This makes the Allied side practically perfect in every way whereas the Nazis are presented as totally evil and without any sort of feeling whatsoever to those who have been fighting on their side. That is very evident at the beginning of the film where the ship that they are transporting these Nazi prisoners on ends up being torpedoed by a Nazi submarine. I have seen several Columbia programmers made during World War II that had inadequate ideas of how to present wartime propaganda and this has to be one of the most blatant misfires. However, when they spent more time on the script and released an A picture, then the results were much better. I give them credit for trying but when you look at these films more than 70 years later make him come off as majorly disappointing.

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