None Shall Escape (1944) Poster

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8/10
Grim but Good
hcoursen26 February 2007
This one is tough to watch -- as an earlier reviewer says. That is amazing considering the terrible films that came out right after WWII -- particularly the "liberation" of Dachau. It is clear that, as of the middle of the war, we knew exactly what was happening to the Jews. The sequence that shows a "transport" is vivid, almost as if based upon an actual newsreel (the Nazis liked to record their atrocities). Knox as the Nazi is brilliant. He charts the course of a Nazi career. That charting is particularly telling when contrasted with the reactions of other Germans, at first laughing at Hitler, then incredulous, and finally helpless. That contrast, however, permits us to believe in the "conversion" of one young Nazi officer to an anti-Nazi stance. That did happen, as witness the several attempts against Hitler, most notably the Staffenberg plot which occurred as this film was coming out. A strong film, effectively using flashbacks, accurately predicting the Nuremburg trails and others that would occur once the war ended.
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8/10
Great Classic Film
whpratt128 February 2007
Never viewed this film until recently on TCM and found this story concerning Poland and a small town which had to suffer with the Nazi occupation of the local towns just like many other European Cities for example: Norway. The First World War was over and people in this town were still suffering from their lost soldiers and the wounded which War always creates. Alexander Knox, ( Wilhelm Gimm)"Gorky Park" returns from the war with a lost leg and was the former school teacher in town. He was brought up a German and was not very happy with the Polish people and they in turn did not fully accept him either. As the Hitler party grew to power Wilhelm Grimm desired to become a Nazi in order to return and punish this small Polish town for their treatment towards him which was really all in his mind. Marsha Hunt,(Marja Pacierkowski),"Chloe's Prayer", played an outstanding role as a woman who lost her husband and was romantically involved with Whilhelm Gimm. There are many flashbacks and some very real truths about how the Nazi destroyed people's families and their entire lives. The cattle cars are shown in this picture with Jewish people heading to the Nazi gas chambers. If you have not seen this film, and like this subject matter, give it some of your time; this film is very down to earth for a 1944 film and a story you will not forget too quickly.
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8/10
A Good Little Unknown Movie
brackenhe26 February 2007
The only reason I give this movie an 8 out of 10 is because there are few movies, in my opinion, that are perfect. This little B picture is a taut story, well told. I've always been intrigued by Alexander Knox, but have seen him very few movies. Here he plays Wilhelm Grimm, a sad little man who turns into a monster. He betrays everything and everybody without an ounce of remorse. The performance is one of the most chilling performances I've ever seen. Since World War 2, actors who played Nazis or other evil types in films have occasionally been nominated for Oscars. I imagine that since this was made during the war, the Academy felt like honoring a performance like this would have been like honoring evil. But Knox puts in that kind of performance--a man so bitter and consumed by guilt that he thinks nothing of making others suffer. I still can't get over it.

Marsha Hunt, who usually plays the filbert gibbet or social butterfly, is cast against type in probably the best performance I've ever seen her give, too. Maybe not Oscar worthy, but the best of her career. Nothing against her; I have enjoyed her in those "slight" roles she often played. But here she proves she up to the task of heavier drama.

If you like human drama stories, or stories about the fates of those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, I highly recommend this fine little film.
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9/10
The World Was Told but Did Not Want to Believe
LeonardKniffel1 January 2020
One can only wonder why this movie has been so little seen and given so little credit for its powerful message. This is the film Henry Travers (Clarence the angel in It's a Wonderful Life) should be remembered for; his portrayal of a Polish village priest is understated and unsentimental. Made in 1944, before World War II ended, it puts to rest the notion that the world did not comprehend the magnitude of Nazi evil. It's all here: Polish women forced into sexual slavery, Jews rounded up and murdered, young German men enamored with their cowardly power, the resistance, and the vain hope of ordinary people that such monstrous horror could never overtake a "civilized" world. The story is told in courtroom flashbacks comprising testimony during the trail of a Nazi officer, with convincing village scenes portraying life in the small town of Lidzbark, Poland, 70% of which was destroyed during the war. Made seventeen years before the release of the most widely recognized film about Nazi war crimes, "Judgment at Nuremburg," "None Shall Escape" is still difficult to find online, but it is one of the most astonishing screen achievements of World War II. Writers Alfred Neumann and Joseph Than were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story ("Going My Way" won).
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8/10
An amazing film that was ahead of its time
MartinHafer3 March 2007
This was a wonderful little American propaganda film that is both highly creative AND openly discusses the Nazi atrocities before the entire extent of the death camps were revealed. While late 1944 and into 1945 would reveal just how evil and horrific they were, this film, unlike other Hollywood films to date, is the most brutally honest film of the era I have seen regarding Nazi atrocities.

The film begins in a courtroom in the future--after the war is over (the film was made in 1944--the war ended in May, 1945). In this fictitious world court, a Nazi leader is being tried for war crimes. Wilhelm Grimm is totally unrepentant and one by one witnesses are called who reveal Grimm's life since 1919 in a series of flashbacks. At first, it appears that the film is going to be sympathetic or explain how Grimm was pushed to join the Nazis. However, after a while, it becomes very apparent that Grimm is just a sadistic monster. These episodes are amazingly well done and definitely hold your interest and also make the film seem less like a piece of propaganda but a legitimate drama.

All in all, the film does a great job considering the film mostly stars second-tier actors. There are many compelling scenes and performances--especially the very prescient Jewish extermination scene towards the end that can't help but bring you close to tears. It was also interesting how around the same point in the film there were some super-creative scenes that use crosses in a way you might not notice at first. Overall, it's a must-see for history lovers and anyone who wants to see a good film.

FYI--This is not meant as a serious criticism of the film, but Hitler was referred to as "that paper hanger". This is a reference to the myth that Hitler had once made money putting up wallpaper. This is in fact NOT true--previously he'd been a "starving artist", homeless person and served well in the German army in WWI. A horrible person, yes, but never a paper hanger!
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10/10
I love the way this movie covers a rage of characters.
whitewater-413251 October 2018
Not many movies of Wold War 2 covers how a person comes to join a Nazi Patry. What makes someone turn to such extremes. I Think this movie doesn't get enough credit for that . I'm not sympathizing with any type of Nazi but this movie gives a wide range of outlooks. I think it's an excellent teaching tool of what can happen to all people when they become angry and frustrated. I wish more movies would cover this topic. Most of us know about the Jewish persecutions . I think it's import to understand the mind of people who are seemingly loving and normal to turn to a party with such hatred. I think a lot of them were tricked and we need to know about this so it can never happen again !! Because right now it's happening in the USA and it's horrifying . It does not happen overnight and this movie does a great job of building up to that !
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10/10
An astonishing film, not only for its time; as relevant today as ever.
friedlandea9 February 2019
Inevitably, when one sees this film a comparison with "Judgment at Nuremburg" made twenty years later comes to mind. The second war crimes trial movie, of course, was a grand production peopled with star actors. It makes a powerful impact. It is a great film. But I find the impact of this earlier gem even more profound, not just because it was made while the war was still ongoing and not just because it was the first Hollywood production to admit, and show on screen, the genocide of Jewish people. That, of course, is a powerful reason to see the film. At the moment of its release the United States president and military high command declined to bomb rail lines leading to Auschwitz, being afraid of bad publicity if planes were shot down and pilots lost. It is extraordinary that Rabbi David in the film (Richard Hale) not only exhorts his people to resist - as in the Warsaw ghetto - but he recites, before dying, the words of the Kaddish, in Hebrew. All that is astonishing enough. But the true genius of "None Shall Escape" and its difference from "Judgment at Nuremburg" lie in the motivations of the characters. They are far deeper and more human here. In "Judgment" the accused criminal (Burt Lancaster) is a decent man. He never signed on to evil. He just went along. Now he is repentant. He has "made his life excrement," he laments. Certainly that was the case for masses of people. That is an ancient dilemma; what is a good person to do when his society turns evil? Resist and risk death? Or go along and repress any twinges of conscience? Socrates himself, the great philosopher, faced the dilemma when his own students overthrew Athenian democracy and turned it into a bloody dictatorship. (Spoiler: he did a Burt Lancaster) It is a vital question even today. "None Shall Escape" addresses a more fundamental question. What makes a society, or an individual, turn evil?

The movie, needless to say, has no answer. There is no answer. But it suggests and it probes. We see the proto-Nazi in his larval stage. We see his metamorphosis, then his emergence as a fully-formed monster. He is, unlike Burt Lancaster's later version, entirely unrepentant - a far more plausible end. His metamorphosis is gradual and subtle. Many currents feed it: a need to belong - the alienation he feels as an outsider in the Polish community; a feeling of inadequacy - he sees himself as half a man since his war wound, for which he compensates by rape and brutality; a fragile ego which requires to be fed - he incarcerates his brother and kills his own nephew when he fears their acts will reflect badly upon him. He pretends to be strong, but he is weak. His last two crimes, prostituting Marja's daughter and shooting down his nephew, are imposed upon him by the whispered words of his subordinate (Kurt Kreuger). We come perilously close to sympathy for the monster. But in the end he is irredeemable.

All this Alexander Knox brilliantly but subtly allows to come through. It is a marvelous performance. Note how, in the second half of his characterization he indulges more and more in alcohol, as if he needs to steady himself to keep his life going. Marsha Hunt too gives us a luminous and subtle portrayal. She is the heroine, to be sure. But she is more than a stereotypical steadfast figure. Slowly but surely she becomes beaten down. At first she presents us a strong, determined woman. She can tell him abruptly that he has changed for the worse and leave him jilted and morose. By the end she presents us a lost look. The horror of her life has been too much to bear. I see an earlier comment expresses surprise that Marsha Hunt could play such a serious role. Certainly she could. She was (or should I say, she is, since he I still with us at age 101) a hugely gifted character actress. See the depth of her performances in "Smash-Up" and "Raw Deal."

Marsha Hunt and Lester Cole the screenwriter (and also Art Smith who has a small role) were destroyed a few years later by the blacklist. Ayn Rand and her cohort, the Motion Picture Alliance for American Ideas made sure that groupthink prevailed in American ideas. They condemned all sorts of supposed socialist thought. They condemned "The Best Years of Our Lives" for some mild criticism of businessmen (allusions which if you reach for a handful of popcorn you'll miss entirely). They condemned "A Song to Remember" (biopic on he life of Frederic Chopin) because he sacrifices himself for his country - instead of, as Ayn insisted, putting individual interest ahead of "collectivist" ideology. But Ayn and company missed this one. Lester Cole slipped one through. Gauleiter Grimm's brother (Erik Rolf) says in so many words that he is a Socialist. That is the sin for which he rots in a concentration camp. Lester could have written in any number of reasons to have the character persecuted (or blacklisted) without mentioning the s-word. But he used it, and it wasn't whited out. Yet another reason to applaud the courage of "None Shall Escape."
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7/10
Projecting the future
bkoganbing1 October 2018
This is a neat little B picture where World War II has already been one and Nuremberg like trials are taking place. One such trial is that of SS officer Alexander Knox and is told in flashback by several witnesses to his barbarism and cruelty.

Knox was a soldier in World War I and was wounded in the trenches and lost a leg. Before the war he lived in German occupied Poland as a school teacher and was not loved. Now that Poland has been reconstituted a nation Knox is even more unwelcome. So he makes his way to the new Weimar Republic in Germany and lives in Munich where another WW1 veteran is organizing a new Nazi party that excites Knox.

Even in this country many things can push someone into those kind of extreme political beliefs. Knox's individual story is never lost against the background of the historical events taking place. Knox is fascinating portrait of studied and carefully nurtured cruelty. As he rises in the party when war is declared and over in a manner of weeks in 1939 against Poland he makes sure he's assigned to that old village.

One thing that was most assuredly not true. The film notes the friendship of Catholic priest Henry Travers and Rabbi Richard Hale. The film deserves praise for recognizing what would later become the holocaust. But in pre WW2 Poland ain't no way Travers and Hale would be any kind of friends. The film was written by Lester Cole of the Hollywood 10 and it got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. On that point Cole was truly fantasizing.

Others to note in the cast are Marsha Hunt as the village schoolteacher who was a teen back when Knox was the teacher, Richard Crane as Knox's nephew whom he tries to create a mirror image of himself, and Trevor Bardette the grown version of a kid who hated Knox when he was the schoolteacher.

Maybe without big name stars this film has managed better than most wartime films to still be relevant today. Very relevant when looking at today's current climate.
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8/10
Scathing Profile of a Nazi
evanston_dad8 July 2020
"None Shall Escape" is a scathing investigation into the pysche of a Nazi. It explores the circumstances and personality traits of someone for whom the Nazi ideology would be welcome in an effort to explain how otherwise "normal" people could find themselves swept along by such a horrific movement. The Nazi at the film's center, played by Alexander Knox, finds himself drawn to the movement out of unresolved feelings of vengeance, a sense that he needs to get back at those who, in his mind, wronged him in some way. Basically it's the story of someone who has felt bullied himself becoming the bully, but on a monstrous scale.

I admired this film for trying to address Nazi atrocities as they were happening. For all of the hordes of Hollywood films made during WWII, I can't think of a single other one that actually showed Nazis gunning down Jews, or showed them being herded onto train cars for transportation to extermination camps. This film is also weirdly prescient; the framing device of the film is a fictional war crimes trial that anticipated the actual Nuremberg trials that would occur after the end of the war.

Knox gives a sterling and frightening performance. The film makes of his character a believable and very human brand of evil, so it's not easy to simply dismiss him as a beastly aberration.

"None Shall Escape" received an Oscar nomination for Best Motion Picture Story in 1944.

Grade: A-
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6/10
trial for war crimes
ksf-22 April 2020
None Shall Escape... a look back at stories from Germany during WW II, and those who need to by punished for their deeds during that time. Wilhelm Grimm is called to the stand, to defend his actions. Co-stars Henry Travers (Clarence, from Wonderful Life !) as Reverand Wareski, who is witness for the prosecution, from poland. but the real star of much of the action is the Wilhelm's nephew Will. under Wilhelm's teaching, he has become the perfect model german soldier. actor Erik Rolfe appears to have died young at 45, although the cause of death isn't explained anywhere. The film was made in 1944, so the war was still going on, which explains the over-the-top acting and extra strong patriotic commentary. it also shows that contrary to popular belief, they DID know as early as 1944 what was occurring to those people rounded up, or at least some of the atrocities. and even more interesting is that nazi soldiers would be held accountable in a trial. Directed by Andre DeToth. was nominated for Gunfighter, with Gregory Peck. it's pretty good. kind of serves as a how-to on putting those accused of war crimes on trial.
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7/10
Flashback
kosmasp3 August 2013
Not only because this movie was made almost 70 years ago (at the time of writing/watching it the first time), but also because of the structure of the movie. It may feel a bit dated (no pun intended) and the effects certainly are, but the story is what counts and that is pretty strong indeed.

The acting is more than good, though you can see where it does lead to most of the time. So while there won't be too many surprises, hopefully the drama itself and maybe a bit of the back-story of this movie will entice you. Don't be appalled by the court aspect of the movie, because very little of it actually plays in it.
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6/10
Workmanlike
richard-17871 October 2018
This is not a great movie. You have only to compare it with another, later movie about the trial of Nazi war criminals, Judgement at Nuremberg (1961), which is a great if flawed movie, to see how far this one falls short of greatness.

That said, however, this movie is very workmanlike. There are no real surprises, but it moves along effectively and makes all the expected points. The war criminal here, Wilhelm Grimm, very well played by Alexander Knox, is an understated monster with no surprising complications. I suppose in 1944 there would have been no other way to depict him, but it makes his character predictable and not very interesting. Hannah Arendt's study of "the banality of evil" would later show that these monsters, though indeed true monsters, were often not monstrous in everything, which made their monstrosity harder to understand.

The final, short scene, in which the judges address the world after the war, might have made sense in 1944 before Germany had been defeated, but it seems very hokey now.

It's worth a watch, but it's not particularly memorable.
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5/10
German accents?
gkhege1 October 2018
Never been a fan of German soilders speaking perfect English. Just takes away from the theme of the plot...
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