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Background to Danger (1943)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller, War | 3 July 1943 (USA)
A German spy ring plans to publicize a false rumor that Russia, who is fighting Germany, plans to invade neutral Turkey in order to ally them with the Nazis.

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writers:

W.R. Burnett (screenplay), Eric Ambler (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
George Raft ... Joe Barton
Brenda Marshall ... Tamara Zaleshoff
Sydney Greenstreet ... Colonel Robinson
Peter Lorre ... Nikolai Zaleshoff
Osa Massen ... Ana Remzi
Turhan Bey ... Hassan
Willard Robertson ... 'Mac' McNamara
Kurt Katch ... Mailler
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Storyline

Ankara in neutral Turkey : World War Two. A town of intrigue and of provocateurs. The Germans are planning to leak maps apparently proving that the Russians are about to invade the country. American Joe Barton is in the know and in the middle, along with Zaloshoff and his sister who may or may not be Russians. What is clear though is that odious Colonel Robinson is a full-blown Nazi. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Love in the midst of intrigue!

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Turkish | French

Release Date:

3 July 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Background to Danger See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Rudick is referred to as being 52 years old my Col. Robinson. Frank Reicher, who played him, looks every year his real age--68. See more »

Goofs

When the train is shown leaving Ankara Station for Istanbul (48 minutes in) you see a bit of stock footage showing a (British) Southern Railway class M7 suburban tank engine running somewhere on the South Eastern and Chatham system which runs between London and Kent. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Robinson: We Nazis do not relish failure.
See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: Tyrus (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Rosen aus dem Süden (Roses from the South), Op.388
(1880)
Written by Johann Strauss
Played on a radio
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Completely fun and well done action espionage film set and filmed during WWII
3 May 2014 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Background to Danger (1943)

On the uncertain fringes of the European War are countries like Morocco, Syria, and Turkey, where the intrigues of diplomats and expatriates can become complicated and colorful, several movies were made about WWII. One of those, obviously, is "Casablanca," released to full distribution in 1943. And in this one we have Peter Lorre (as a shadowy character of course), Sydney Greenstreet (as a Nazi leader), and Bogart-wannabe George Raft, who takes the leading role.

Unlike Casablanca, however, this one, set in Syria and Turkey, is filled with action, chasing, fear, and trickery. The shadows are not glamorous and romantic, but dangerous. It's a Warner crime film adapted to the war. Raft plays an American archetype a little like Bogart would have, independent and a little sassy, though he is always more eager to be liked, both by the other characters and the audience.

Director Raoul Walsh is one of the greats of early Hollywood (he even assisted Griffith on "Birth of a Nation"). He makes this story intense, fluid, dramatic, and physical in the best ways. In particular, the huge range of sets and scenes (almost entirely on the studio lot) is impressive and effective. The camera moves, the light is harsh when it isn't pure shadow, and music swells and twirls, and most of all the characters are always on the movie.

The kinetic essence of the whole enterprise is in keeping with the first scary years of the real war, and that's on every audience member's mind. Unlike "Casablanca," set in the days before Pearl Harbor (though filmed after), this movie was planned and shot as the U.S. was already sending troops to Europe. The message here is clearly anti-Nazi, and desperate. Lorre is duplicitous and fabulous in his large role. The leading woman, Brenda Marshall, is no Ingrid Bergman, nor quite an effective action figure.

"I'm American. America's at war," Raft's character says halfway through. And Lorre lays out for him some of the complications of the real war, and how Russia is an ally with complicated intentions. And in a slightly opportunistic way, the movie makes clear that Russia (which is rarely called the Soviet Union, its real name) is a friend. It becomes clearer and clearer as it goes, until the last line of the movie nails it down.

A great movie this is not, but it's actually really good, worth seeing, a thrilling ride even if you have to swallow the kind of facile way the plot is kept intact at times. You can almost watch it for ambiance alone, as cinematographer Tony Gaudio pulls out the stops in the same way (visually) he famously did for Wyler in "The Letter." What Raft lacks in intensity Lorre makes up for in brilliance. Give it a chance.


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