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There is a problem with foreign nationals using Cuba as a convenient jumping off point for illegal entry into the United States. So U.S. Immigration Service Agent Peter Karczag (John Hodiak) is sent to Havana posing as a Hungarian frustrated with the legal immigration process and open to an alternative. By this means he uncovers the human smuggling ring run by Palinov (George Macready). He also meets concentration-camp refugee Marianne Lorress (Hedy Lamarr), a Viennese working in a nightclub and one who has paid to be smuggled into the United States. When Karczag falls in love with her, he becomes conflicted, not wanting her to be among those he plans to have captured in his operation. So he tries to persuade her to stay in Cuba instead of being secretly flown to the United States. Will he succeed? What if his cover is blown? Written by
Fred Edwords <FEdwords@Gmail.com>
The title character of "A Lady Without Passport" is Marianne Lorress (Hedy Lamar), a Viennese ex-patriate who has waited years to immigrate to the U.S. where her father lives. She is stuck in Cuba due to American regulations and is down on her luck. There she meets Pete Karczag (John Hodiak), an INS agent who is trying to bust a smuggling ring.
An ex-pat in a way station, waiting to leave but held back by the authorities. Where have we heard that before? Yes, this is undoubtedly another of the films inspired by the success of "Casablanca" (1942). But it lacks the intensity or charm of the Bogart vehicle. The set for the hotel in this film looks like the set from "To Have and Have Not" (1944), another film about ex-pats trying to get away.
But let me focus on the positive aspects of the film. First, there is John Hodiak. The character he plays is clever and street smart--traits that Hodiak pulls off quite well. Secondly, there are the Havana location shots that add an authenticity and the little bit of charm that the film possesses. Lastly, the (B&W) photography shows some originality and adds to the mood of the narrative.
The music feels inappropriate at times, but first-rate at other times. Ms. Lamar falls short of being the woman who drives the story and who inspires a man to risk his life.
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