30 user 6 critic

Escape (1940)

Passed | | Drama | 1 November 1940 (USA)
3:22 | Trailer
In 1936, a young man arrives in Hitler's Germany, frantically seeking information about his missing German mother, and finds she is pending execution at a concentration camp.


Mervyn LeRoy


Arch Oboler (screen play), Marguerite Roberts (screen play) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Norma Shearer ... Countess von Treck
Robert Taylor ... Mark Preysing
Conrad Veidt ... General Kurt von Kolb
Alla Nazimova ... Emmy Ritter (as Nazimova)
Felix Bressart ... Fritz Keller
Albert Bassermann ... Dr. Arthur Henning
Philip Dorn ... Dr. Ditten
Edgar Barrier ... Commissioner
Bonita Granville ... Ursula
Elsa Bassermann ... Mrs. Henning
Blanche Yurka ... Nurse
Lisa Golm ... Anna


An American goes to Germany to find his mother and discovers her in a concentration camp. With the help of a German countess he engineers her escape. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

nazi | germany | actress | escape | skiing | See All (14) »


Thrilling Book : Magnificent Picture




Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in New York City Saturday 20 April 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), followed by Philadelphia Monday 6 May 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6); it first aired in Altoona PA 22 May 1957 on WFBG (Channel10), in Seattle 3 June 1957 on KING (Channel 5), in Portland OR 20 June 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Honolulu 22 July 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Chicago 4 August 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Phoenix 1 September 1957 on KPHO (Channel 5), in Baltimore 15 September 1957 on WJZ (Channel 13), in Nashville 17 October 1957 on WLAC (Channel 5), in Tucson 4 December 1957 on KVOA (Channel 4), and in Cleveland 20 December 1957 on KYW (Channel 3); in Los Angeles its television premiere did not take place until a year later, 14 December 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11); in San Francisco its earliest documented telecast stands at 10 November 1961 on KGO (Channel 7). See more »


When Countess Ruby gets up after sitting next to General Kolb while he was playing piano, she picks up her white gloves. But on the next cut, she is now holding her hat which earlier she had placed on the mirror bureau on the other side of the room. See more »


Dr. Ditten: When I was a boy, I lived in the country. I never saw a theater or went anywhere. And one day, my father went to the city and brought back a theater program with your photograph on it. I stole it. I kept it hidden in a bureau drawer.
Emmy Ritter: Many young boys feel in love with me. Oh, many old ones too.
Dr. Ditten: In the photograph you were dressed as St. Elizabeth, carrying a basket with loaves of bread and in your arms - roses.
Emmy Ritter: I remember.
Dr. Ditten: That's why you were important to me. In my hungry, empty world, you promised ...
See more »


Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Charles Busch (2007) See more »


(1865) (uncredited)
from "Tristan und Isolde"
Written by Richard Wagner
Played on piano by Conrad Veidt
Played at a concert and as background
See more »

User Reviews

Robert Taylor stars as an American of German descent who has only a few hours to rescue his mother from a German concentration camp with the help of wealthy expatriate, Norma Shearer.
29 September 1999 | by briskySee all my reviews

This relatively unknown star vehicle is unusual for a number of different reasons. Although top billed, MGM Studio Queen, Norma Shearer's role is substantially smaller than co-star Robert Taylor's heroic turn as an American son desperately attempting to save his mother from a German Concentration camp. His mother is wonderfully played (and occasionally overplayed) by Nazimova, one of the great theatrical legends of the early 20th century. It's an interesting footnote, that it was Irving Thalberg who helped cut short the meretricious Nazimova's strange film career while his widow, Shearer, graciously allowed the former star to appear to great advantage in one of Shearer's last screen appearances. Conrad Veidt plays Shearer's Nazi lover and while he appears as icy and unyielding as he would two years later in "Casablanca", his character is softened somewhat by his un-disclosed illness and by Shearer's devotion to him. This film was one of the few made in Hollywood prior to the war which was openly critical of the Nazis (although they do hedge their bets by having a sympathetic German doctor, which gives the impression that more than a few intelligent German's disagreed with the Nazis. Significantly, this character does appear in full Nazi drag towards the end of the picture). Robert Taylor is given a very tricky part to play as a man determined to save his mother against all odds. With his masculine demeanor and his controlled sensitivity he gives a performance of great passion and conviction. Norma Shearer, looking regally beautiful and every bit the Countess, manages to convey the situation of a woman who desperately wants to help Taylor and leave her adopted country, but realizes that she must stay out of duty to Veidt, in spite of her true feelings. Felix Bressart also appears as the Nazimova's frightened but faithful servant, who helps Taylor escape. Bressart, who made a career of playing befuddled foreigners, is best known as one of the three Russian Communists in Ninotchka. Interesting casting was Bonita Granville, best known as the screen's all-American girl detective, Nancy Drew, here playing the role of a pro-Nazi student at Miss Shearer's finishing school (she would play a similar role in 1943's wartime propaganda film, "Hitler's Children"). The film was sumptuously mounted and stylishly directed by Mervyn Leroy the same year as he directed "Waterloo Bridge" also starring Taylor with Vivien Leigh. "Escape" is effective, at times shocking, but always vastly entertaining. Interesting footnote: Norma Shearer would turn down "Pride & Prejudice" and "Mrs. Miniver" both of which would turn Greer Garson into an MGM star much in the the same vein as Miss Shearer. Norma Shearer's last film, "Her Cardboard Lover" would also be opposite Robert Taylor.

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Release Date:

1 November 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Escape See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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