Shortly after the end of World War II, British Colonel Michael S. "Hooky" Nicobar (Walter Pidgeon) is assigned to a unit in the British Zone of Vienna. His duty is to aid the Soviet ... See full summary »


George Sidney


Gina Kaus (screenplay), Arthur Wimperis (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Pidgeon ... Col. Michael S. 'Hooky' Nicobar
Ethel Barrymore ... Mother Superior ('Mother Auxilia')
Peter Lawford ... Major John 'Twingo' McPhimister
Angela Lansbury ... Audrey Quail
Janet Leigh ... Olga Alexandrova / Maria Buhlen
Louis Calhern ... Colonel Piniev
Francis L. Sullivan ... Colonel Humphrey 'Blinker' Omicron
Melville Cooper ... Private David Moonlight
Robert Coote ... Brigadier C.M.V. Catlock
Alan Napier ... The General
Roman Toporow Roman Toporow ... 2nd Lt. Maxim Omansky
Kasia Orzazewski Kasia Orzazewski ... Sister Kasmira
Tamara Shayne Tamara Shayne ... Helena Nagard
Konstantin Shayne ... Professor Serge Bruloff
Janine Perreau ... Mickey Mouse


Shortly after the end of World War II, British Colonel Michael S. "Hooky" Nicobar (Walter Pidgeon) is assigned to a unit in the British Zone of Vienna. His duty is to aid the Soviet authorities to repatriate citizens of the Soviet Union, many of whom prefer not to return to their home country. Billeted in the convent run by Mother Auxilia (Ethel Barrymore), Nicobar, and his military aides Major John "Twingo" McPhimister (Peter Lawford) and Audrey Quail (Dame Angela Lansbury), become involved in the plight of young ballerina Olga Alexandrova (Janet Leigh), who is trying to avoid being returned to Moscow. Nicobar's sense of duty is tested as he sees first hand the plight of the people he is helping return to the Soviet Union; his lack of religious faith is also shaken by his contact with the Mother Superior. Written by Ron Kerrigan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Beautiful Maria...the four lives that touched hers were never the same again!


Drama | Romance | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Audrey Totter was initially set to play Audrey Quail. See more »


Melville Cooper's role is credited as "Private David Moonlight" but his uniform bears Sergeant's stripes throughout the movie. See more »


Major John 'Twingo' McPhimister: Reverend Mother, you're well... you're a trump!
Mother Superior: Colonel Nicobar, you are a tramp!
Col. Michael S. 'Hooky' Nicobar: A tramp?
Mother Superior: Oh, a trump.
See more »


On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe
Music by Harry Warren
Played at the tavern in Rome when Audrey and Twingo say goodbye
See more »

User Reviews

Repatriating the Red Refugees
6 July 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Russian colonel Louis Calhern is looking for prima ballerina Janet Leigh to take her back to the Soviet Union in post World War II Vienna in 1946. His quest is the heart of The Red Danube.

The Red Danube came out in 1949 and is set at the time when people thought it possible to keep the wartime Allies on the same page. That was not to be due to the differences in the two political systems that combined to defeat Hitler.

Walter Pidgeon is recently transferred to Vienna and gets an order to find her and turn her over to the Russians. He doesn't count on three things, his aide Peter Lawford falling for Janet, the formidable presence of Mother Superior Ethel Barrymore who is sheltering Leigh, and his own growing conscience about what he sees around him.

People would rather die than return to the worker's paradise that Communism has created. I mean literally, both here in the film and in real life back in the day. It's easy to dismiss The Red Danube as a Cold War inspired film. But the situations are way too real.

Best performance in the film is Ethel Barrymore, followed closely by Pidgeon as the British Colonel with a conscience. Pidgeon is a nonbeliever and his debates with Barrymore about religion are the best thing in the film.

Part of the film has Pidgeon getting Barrymore on a military plane to see the Pope in Rome during a conference concerning refugees. Now mind you this is Pius XII we are talking about who before and as Pope never quite saw the danger Hitler was to the church that Stalin was.

But I'm willing to bet that seeing Ethel Barrymore delineate the character of the Mother Superior this was a woman who walked the Christian walk as well. I'm even willing to bet she probably sheltered a few Jews during the holocaust as well.

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Release Date:

14 October 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Case of Maria Buhlen See more »


Box Office


$1,961,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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