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Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)

Approved | | Drama, War | 6 May 1939 (USA)
FBI agent Ed Renard investigates the pre-War espionage activities of the German-American Bund.

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Milton Krims (screen play), John Wexley (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Edward Renard
Francis Lederer ... Schneider
George Sanders ... Schlager
Paul Lukas ... Dr. Kassell
Henry O'Neill ... Attorney Kellogg
Dorothy Tree ... Hilda Kleinhauer
Lya Lys ... Erika Wolf
Grace Stafford ... Mrs. Schneider
James Stephenson ... British Military Intelligence Agent
Hedwiga Reicher ... Mrs. Kassell (as Celia Sibelius)
Joe Sawyer ... Werner Renz
Sig Ruman ... Krogman (as Sig Rumann)
Lionel Royce Lionel Royce ... Hintze
Henry Victor ... Wildebrandt
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ... Helldorf (as Hans von Twardowski)
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Storyline

Prior to the United States entry into World War II, Nazi spies try to steal American military secrets. Among those whose passions are roused is Kurt Schneider who was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the US Army. Schneider is not very bright and is easily swayed by the oratory of Dr. Karl Kassel, a prominent physician who is eventually made the head of the Nazi spy ring. When Schneider's contact is arrested in Scotland, the US military asks the FBI to root out the spies. Agent Edward Renard is put in charge of the case and they methodically arrest all who have been spying. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

EXPOSED! It Was Our American Duty to Make This Picture! It's Your American Priviledge to See It! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Storm over America See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On Manday, July 3, 1939, Warner's legal department advised company's theaters that "Confessions of a Nazi Spy" must not be publicized as "based on the book written by Leon G. Turrou." See more »

Goofs

According to the film the spies are allegedly working for "German Naval Intelligence." In reality no such agency ever existed. The Abwehr was the joint intelligence service that coordinated foreign espionage for the entire German military. Before and during most of WWII the Abwehr was headed by Adm. Wilhelm Canaris. Also, Canaris and Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, detested one another and would never have cooperated as shown in the film (the producers may not have known this in 1939.) See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: Some months ago, various persons appeared in the federal courts of New York City and the Panama Canal Zone, charged with the crime of espionage against the armed forces of the United States. Called to the witness stand, they swore to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God". The story brought out at those trials is stranger than fiction, revealing the existence of a vast spy ring operating against the naval, military, and air forces of the United...
See more »

Alternate Versions

For the 1940 re-release, Warner Bros. added footage showing the devastation inflicted on Norway, Holland and Belgium, those countries then occupied by Germany. That footage is included in the print shown on Turner Classic Movies. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Confusions of a Nutzy Spy (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

Annie Laurie
(1834-35) (uncredited)
Music by Lady John Scott
Whistled by Alec Craig
See more »

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User Reviews

Overlong propaganda...with some great moments.
5 September 2002 | by LoveCoatesSee all my reviews

Not a bad film, particularly in its historical importance. Reportedly, the Warner brothers and Edward G. Robinson all fought to make this film, which was made at a time when Americans, remembering the devastation of WWI, were still wary about entering another European conflict.

Structured a little strangely -- we don't get enough of our favorite character, Robinson's, who is a prototype of the thirties G-Man. He has some great lines, particularly when cutting down the bad guys. It's interesting to see him on the right side of the law for once, and equally interesting to see Paul Lukas, best known for playing the anti-Nazi hero of Watch on the Rhine, playing a German sympathizer.

An almost-unrecognizable George Sanders steals the show (doesn't he always?) as a hardcore Nazi soldier.

The movie is heavy-handed propaganda which becomes almost comical with its over-dramatic narration and failure to recognize the irony in its supposed hate of propaganda. The narrator does offer up the movie's most hilarious line, describing how the Germans manufacture "mass stupidity."


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