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On the eve of World War II (1939) English officer Ralph Denistoun is in Nazi Germany on an espionage mission to recover a poison gas formula from Prof. Krosigk. He is helped by Lydia and her band of gypsies. Naturally romance develops along the way. Written by
Don Femia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hollywood has made a lot of strange movies over the years, but none stranger than this. WHY this movie got made I will never know, nor how Paramount could have thought it would sell any tickets in 1947. It is the strangest mix of genres I have seen in a long time, a movie that truly does not know whether it is trying to be a serious war drama or a Viennese operetta comedy.
It tells the story of a British spy trying to get a poison gas formula out of Germany in the days just before WW II began. Ray Milland, a fine actor, is stuck playing the part like an escapee from Monty Python, all very exaggerated English prep-school dialogue. In Germany he meets a gypsy, Marlene Dietrich, who helps him to travel under cover as, of course, another gypsy. She plays her part like the typical Viennese operetta gypsy caricature, as do the other "gypsies" in the movie. But there are also Nazis, who are not funny at all. And then Milland finds he is starting to think like a gypsy, and that is not treated as a joke. Sometimes the music is for a light comedy, sometimes for a drama. Every time the Nazis show up, the film score plays Wagner, which is funny by itself.
This movie could have been a comedy, or it could have taken the plight of the gypsies seriously and done a serious job of showing how the Nazis treated them. Both are hinted at in this movie, but neither pursued. What we are left with is a truly strange mish-mash of genres that must have embarrassed everyone (except the director) involved.
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