Assignment: Paris (1952) Poster

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Cold War Noir
bkoganbing8 August 2007
Assignment: Paris is another of those films with a faraway location that never got past the Columbia back lot. Still it's a decent enough Cold War noir thriller.

Dana Andrews is a hotshot reporter for the New York Herald Tribune assigned to its prestige international division in Paris which is headed by editor George Sanders. Andrews is covering the capture and trial of an American for espionage by the Hungarian hardline regime. Of course when he's sent to Budapest in pursuit of the story, Andrews becomes the story himself and Sanders works like a demon to get him free.

Sanders is aided and abetted by the lovely Marta Toren who gets in a bit of hot water herself in the effort. Audrey Totter, the fashion editor, provides moral support all around.

Hard to believe that in five years Toren would be gone, dying of leukemia at a young age. That was one extraordinarily beautiful woman, what a career she should have had.

Though Andrews is first billed, the film is really carried by Sanders in one of his few roles as a good guy. The man with the built in sneer carries the part off well.

The Cold War atmosphere was just right for these shadowy noir films of intrigue. Assignment: Paris is a good representation of the times.
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Thrown together Cold War drama
blanche-215 March 2009
Dana Andrews has "Assignment: Paris" in this 1952 Cold War drama that also stars George Sanders and Marta Toren. Andrews is Jimmy Race, an ambitious reporter in the Paris office of the New York Herald Tribune; his boss is George Sanders. Race is assigned the espionage trial of an American captured by the Hungarians. In Budapest, Race is captured, and it's up to Sanders to try to free him.

Sanders gets help from a woman, played by Marta Toren, whose background is not explained. Audrey Totter plays a fashion editor.

All the performances are good, but the revelation is Toren, whom I'd never seen before. She was remarkably beautiful and a fine actress. Unfortunately she died very young, which is a terrible tragedy. She never makes the list of most beautiful, and she should. I suppose not that many people are familiar with her.

Sanders carries the film in the workhorse role, and an unusual one for him as he's a good guy. The film is done in more of a documentary style with a dynamic conclusion, though some plot points are up in the air.

Definitely worth seeing for the stunning Toren.
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post WW II cold war Thrilla
ksf-223 April 2008
Assignment Paris is directed by Oscar-awarded Robert Parrish, who had worked with Charlie Chaplin, Hal Roach, and John Ford in the 1920s and 1930s. Looking at his resume, he certainly worked his way up the ladder the old fashioned way. George Sanders plays Nicholas Strang, the wise editor of the paper, for which Jimmy Race (Dana Andrews) works as a digging, scheming reporter. Viewers will recognize Sanders from All About Eve, again playing the older, wiser, mentor. A lot of time is spent with the viewer (but not the characters in the film) watching and hearing what is going on inside the foreign embassies and administration offices, so it's very much a cold war us- against- them story, with Race trying to get to the truth. Caught up in all this is fellow reporter Marta Toren as Jeanne Moray, and no-one is really sure what her story is.... We are led to think she is more involved than we know, but that part of the story seems to have been dropped, or deleted. Also keep an eye out for Leon Askin, who would play General Bulkhalter in Hogan's Heroes ten years later. Quite entertaining, but it almost feels like an episode of Dragnet -- more documentary than story, which could have been the director's intent. Thrilling, if not surprising, conclusion to the movie.
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Cold War look at Soviet press control and a great newspaper
SimonJack30 November 2015
The screenplay of "Assignment in Paris" is choppy in places, and the scenes seem hurried at times. But, the plot for this Columbia film is a very good one. And, it's unusual among movies made during and about the Cold War. Unusual, because it is about the press and its coverage of Iron Curtain nations in that time. This film shows how communist countries tried to control the press. And, how they regularly lied to the world about their affairs, their oppression of the people, and their denial of human rights. Many records, books and films of Soviet rule have become available since the fall of the Iron Curtin in 1990.

The acting in this film is good all around. Dana Andrews is Jimmy Race, a former American paratrooper from World War II. Mara Torén is Jeanne Moray who was a member of the French underground in the war. Both are reporters and working for the Trib in the present time. George Sanders is Nicholas Strang, editor chief of the European edition of the paper. All the supporting cast are good. The street scenes of Budapest and Paris are good and offer a glaring contrast. The IMDb listing has shooting locations in those capitols. The latter has the usual scene of cars driving by the Eifel Tower. I particularly noted the Budapest street scene with nary a soul in sight and just one vehicle on the street. When I visited East Berlin in 1964, it was like that – very few people on the streets. Friends who visited or were from other Iron Curtain countries told me it was the same in those places.

The setting for this film moves between Paris and Budapest. While the time, the Cold War and the places were very real, the particular plot is fictitious. Some of the characters are real (Josip Tito) and others are not (Prime Minister Ordy). Tito ruled Yugoslavia from 1944 to 1980. A secret event that is at the heart of this story involves three countries – Hungary, Yugoslavia and Russia. It's interesting to note that Hungary was a member of the Axis nations in World War II, but Yugoslavia was an Allied nation.

This film premiered in the U.S. on Sept. 4, 1952, and across Western Europe in 1953. But just four years after its release, the real Hungarian Revolution of 1956 took place. The uprising lasted from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10, 1956; and by the end of October, the communist government had collapsed and local popular groups were taking office. Then the Soviet Union invaded with tanks and armed forces on Nov. 4 to quash the rebellion. At the end, more than 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed. More than 200,000 Hungarian refugees fled the country. By Jan. 1957, a new Soviet-run government was installed. Mention of the event was suppressed for more than 30 years. Only after the fall of the Iron Curtain and end of the Cold War in 1991, could Hungarians begin to talk about the revolt. After the Soviet invasion, many people fled communist parties in nations around the globe.

I served in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War and before Vietnam. I met and befriended an American soldier who had been in the Hungarian revolt. Laszlo Simon had been a student in November 1956, and he told me he was throwing Molotov cocktails on Russian tanks in Budapest. He was among those who fled the country. He got to an American embassy in Western Europe and joined the U.S. Army. Laszlo became a U.S. citizen. He was transferred to the States and I lost track of him after that.

One other thing of note in this film is the American newspaper in the story. The New York Herald Tribune published its Paris or European edition for some four decades in the mid-20th century. It was the most prominent English newspaper published abroad. Americans, Britons, Canadians and others who spoke English relied on the Herald Tribune for news. The "Trib" won numerous Pulitzer Prizes and was considered the best written and best reported English paper of its day. And, it was the best read paper in America as well as in Continental Europe and Asia.

"Assignment Paris" makes a fine addition to any film collection. The film is peppered with witty lines here and there. Sandy (played by Audrey Totter), says to a bartender (played by Jay Adler, uncredited), "Please, Henry. A good bartender lets a customer cry in his own beer." Ambassador Borvitch (played by Donald Randolph) says, "Geography can be a state of mind." The prime minister in his broadcast gives the usual Soviet denunciation of "the war-mongering capitalistic nations."
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An odd curio from the Cold War
MartinHafer9 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dana Andrews plays a cocky but very competent news correspondent working in Paris during the height of the Cold War. The major story when the film began is the incarceration of an innocent American by the Communist Hungarian government. A bit later, Andrews himself is sent to Hungary. It's hardly a surprise that he's pulled into the espionage business, as he's trying to sneak out the truth about what's really happening behind the Iron Curtain. It also wasn't much of a surprise that the government jailed and tortured him as well as coming up with a fake confession--created by cleverly splicing a recording to make Andrews seem to admit to spying (though, technically speaking, he was a spy--though not for any government, but to sneak out stories to the press). All this is pretty interesting and a great curio of the times, though the rather pat conclusion wasn't exactly the high-point of this otherwise decent film. Not great, but certainly interesting.
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Dark problems with goings-on behind the iron curtain
clanciai28 March 2018
A cold war insight that is fairly realistic and gives a very clear picture of the state of Europe, especially Hungary, during the last years of Stalin. It is especially relevant today as Putin tries to exonerate him and repeat his methods of stretching far outside Russia to persecute so called enemies that could be considered a threat to the infallibility of Russian dictatorship. Dana Andrews is reliable as usual, seconded here by the lovely Marta Toren, who played in films together with almost all the major stars of Hollywood before she died suddenly at only 30 as the successor to Ingrid Bergman, but Marta Toren also married and filmed in Italy. George Sanders is the sober diplomat who handles the intricate situation with due dignity, while the most realistic scenes are the most revolting, those of the Hungarian brainwash procedure under Stalin.

It's not one of Dana Andrews' best pictures, but no one could have made the part he plays better - he had been in it before, like in "The Iron Curtain" 1948.
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Middling Spy Drama With Some Location Shooting
alonzoiii-14 September 2007
Cocky young reporter DANA ANDREWS gets at the truth of some political funny business in Cold War Hungary. Will this help him in his budding romance with the pretty young émigré he took from improbable good guy GEORGE SANDERS during his ASSIGNMENT Paris?

This is a rather typical Columbia production -- decent actors thrown into a fairly silly plot where the implausibilities keep piling up. The good to this movie is the location shooting (they really are in Paris in the exteriors -- love the scene where it's spitting snowflakes) and George Sanders, gamely taking on the sort of role given to Ralph Bellamy. The bad is a somewhat dumb cold war plot, that assumes that a reporter sent to a cold war country is likely going to be arrested, put on trial, and brainwashed (as opposed to merely deported after a careful search). Also, if a reporter really acted like Dana Andrews in his professional or romantic life, he would have his lights punched out by his victims, and be arrested for stalking.

In other words -- not bad, and if you like George Sanders, it might be interesting to see him tackle a non-sneering part. Be warned, though, that Dana Andrews is seriously annoying in this one.
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Red Scare film with Dana Andrews
gordonl5627 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers

This Columbia Pictures production was released at the height of the "Red Scare" film cycle. This one stars Dana Andrews, George Sanders, Audrey Totter and the drop dead beautiful Marta Toren.

Andrews is a reporter based in Paris for the "New York Herald Tribune". His beat is looking into any dirty business involving the Red Bloc embassies. At the moment, the big deal is a Herald reporter that was grabbed up in Budapest. The man has been charged as an American spy and sentenced to 20 years. The commies have a confession on tape, though of course no one believes it.

Now the pretty Marta Toren shows, she is also a reporter for the Herald. Toren has just returned from covering the trial in Hungary. Andrews takes a liking to the woman, and is soon being a pest looking for a date etc. The man in charge of the Paris office is, George Sanders. He wants someone to go to Budapest and dig up some info for the newspaper. Andrews gets picked to do the assignment. He is also filling in for the man just convicted.

Needless to say the Reds are keeping a close eye on reporter Andrews. Of course none of the locals will talk to Andrews for fear of the Secret Police. (The Hungarian version of the NKVD was known to be particularly nasty)

Of course Andrews discovers what he needs to and sends out the info in a coded broadcast. This gets him collared by the Secret Police types. Andrews is now in for a series of "forceful" interviews and a spot of brainwashing. The Reds are really interested in the return of defector, Sandro Giglio. Giglio has some information that is most embarrassing to the leader of Hungary. A deal is made by Sanders for the return of the Andrews.

While the film is by no means a waste of time, I was expecting more from it.

The film has a somewhat rushed feel to it, as if hurried into production because of current headlines. The screenplay writer, William Bowers, and the director, Robert Parrish, had scored with their earlier films, the noir, THE MOB and CRY DANGER. This one is the weakest of the three.

Parrish was an actor turned film editor, turned director. He received two Oscar nominations, winning one for his editing of, BODY AND SOUL. Oscar type Burnett Guffey handled the cinematography duties. Guffey, was Oscar nominated 5 times, winning for BONNIE AND CLYDE and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.
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dbdumonteil7 July 2010
Half of the movie takes place in Paris ,like the title reads;the other half ,which was obviously NOT filmed on location takes place in Hungaria Based on a true story ,we are told ,but the script is really one-sided .A cold war thriller,it's one of the most anti-commies movie I know,this side of "the red Danube" (1949)Americans are loyal,nice,chivalrous ,full of abnegation whereas -with the exception of Gabor- the commies are sinister-looking,cruel ;to think that they would not think twice before killing an innocent child!and they ill-treat a patient in a hospital!and what they do with the tape is not fair play!and they torture you,physically or mentally!And their long fingers are everywhere ,even in our sweet Paris.However,in 1952,if my memory serves me well,some Americans were having a bad time in their own country too.

Dana Andrews does not find here one of his best parts but his talent partly saves the movie and the supporting cast follows suit.I particularly like the coded messages in the conversations or in the phone calls."The little match girl" is a good idea.
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Hungarian Goulash
wes-connors8 August 2007
This movie assumes we viewers have a lot of background knowledge. I guess this is a "cold war drama". It seemed, to me, like a James Bond film. Anyway, it's about reporters in Hungry being threatened by Communists. Dana Andrews is taken by the Communists, and George Sanders has to get him back.

I found myself watching lead actress Märta Torén's performance above all. The photography, direction, and performances are interesting - Ms. Torén's performance is my favorite.

My biggest criticism it that I couldn't figure out what the Communists ultimately do to Mr. Andrews. Did he have a lobotomy or something? I think the filmmakers owe it to the audience to explain; and, with more than just an offhand speculation that he'll be "okay". We're supposed to assume Mr. Andrews is going to be "okay" and character Gabor will be safe with the Communists?

I don't understand.

***** Assignment: Paris (1952) Robert Parris ~ Dana Andrews, Märta Torén, George Sanders
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Assignment:Paris Not One of Dana's Best **
edwagreen1 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The plot is good but is never really expanded. There is a picture of Hungarian officials with Tito of Yugoslavia. Were they planning something against Russia?

Dana Andrews goes to Budapest, Hungary as a newspaper reporter. He is replacing someone at the bureau that has been felled by a heart attack. Andrews is soon arrested and charged with espionage. He is about to be hung until the above picture surfaces. This is used as a bargaining chip to free him. Still, Andrews comes back totally brainwashed and this ends this bad film.

Marta Toren is his love interest and Audrey Totter is totally wasted as another reporter on the bureau in Paris. In addition, the talents of George Sanders are not made use here. He was supposed to be the bureau chief. Both he and Andrews had designs on Ms. Toren.

The writing is the true culprit in this film.
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Half of the Film is Good
arthur_tafero17 August 2018
This film is exactly what they taught us in film school about what NOT to do with a plot, The first day of class we learned not to leave a pot of boiling water on a stove when you leave a room. The audience will always wonder what happened to the pot. This plot leaves TWO boiling pots of water on the stove when the director leaves the room. One is the main character, and the other a sympathetic character. Dana Andrews plays his usual smug and fast-talking hustler role, and then becomes one of the boiling pots. Some B actress from Europe plays his romantic interest, but she is not even as interesting as Ms Totter, who plays a minor role in the film. I have always loved George Saunders. I love everything he did. He tries hard to save this turkey, but he cant. Dumb newpaperman films are passe now; nobody reads newspapers. There are a lot of sharp newspaper films, but this is not one of them.
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What a complete Failure!
ExiledInCali10 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Well, so what was the net of this story? The Americans lost an editor, who was killed and a Hungarian patriot, Gabor. Gabor was not killed by the Communists but sent to a camp where I am sure he was maltreated. On the Hungarian side, they had a dangerous story suppressed, recaptured an enemy of the state, and had a coupe of agents arrested in Paris.. How is this anything but a major win for the Communists.
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Uncle Joe won't like this one bit!
sol-kay28 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** In what looks like a revival of his break-out role of the American smart alack and wise cracking reporter Bill Roberts in the 1942 movie "Berlin corespondent" Dana Andrews tries to duplicate that role as American foreign correspondent for the Herald Tribune Jimmy Race.

Stationed in Paris France Jimmy is just chopping at the bid to get himself sent to Communist Hungary to track down his paper's Budapest correspondent, someone named Anderson, who was convicted of espionage and given a 20 year sentence. Using every trick in the book to get sent behind the iron certain Jimmy finally gets his boss editor Nick Strang, George Sanders, to assign him there just to get him out of his hair. The fact that Jimmy got romantically involved with fellow Paris correspondent the sexy Jeanne Moray, Marta Toren, made his secret lover from afar the blond bombshell fashion writer at the Harald Tribune Sandy Tate, Audry Totter, so jealous that in her feeling scorned by Jimmy she might well blow his cover, in her trying to get even with him, in him finding out just where Anderson is and if in fact he's still alive!

In Budapest Jimmy, or Dana Andrews, uses the very same reporting tricks that he used in the 1942 film "Berlin Correspondent" by sending out his daily reports with coded words to his editor Nick Strang back in Paris to get the truth out about what happened to Aderson. As it turned out Anderson was murdered in his jail cell by the Hungarian Secret Police under the direct orders of the Hungarian Prime Minster Andaeas Ordy,Herbert Benghof! It doesn't take that long for the Hungarian Secret Police under the command of Hungarian Minister of Justice Vajos, Ben Asker, to figure out what jimmy is up to and end up throwing him behind bars on a trumped of charge of espionage against the Peoples Republic of Hungary! Tortured, through mostly sleep deprivation, and forced to sign a confession that he in fact is an American spy Jimmy still had an ace up his sleeve that was to turn everything around in his favor. A photo of Ordy & Vajos together with Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito, or Marshall Tito for short, in them planning to break away from the Soviet Union, like Tito did, and becoming an independent but still communist dictatorship! Something that the if the Soviet Union's madman of a leader Joseph, or uncle Joe as he likes to be called, Stalin ever found out about he would have the entire Hungarian bunch either thrown into a Soviet gulag or if their lucky shot by an KNVD firing squad!

***SPOILERS*** There's also a side story in the movie involving the mysterious Hungarian defector Gabor Czeki, no relation as far as I can see to Zsa Zsa Gabor, who can confirm the fact that both his boss Prime Minister Ordy and secret police chief Vajos were in fact planning to join Tito thus back stabbing Uncle Joe. This has the man being hunted like an animal by the Hungarian Secret Police all over the world including Paris France when he's now in hiding!

The totally unbelievable feel good ending has Czeki coming out of hiding and willingly going back to Budapest to face the music, or a commie firing squad, in return of the by now brainwashed and almost lobotomize Jimmy Race being released in exchange. ****MAJOR SPOILER*** Even that noble act on Czeki's part came to nothing in him being saved in the nick of time by non-other then Nick Strang who threatened to expose Ordy & Vajos's plan to split with the very unstable, by then in 1952 he had completely gone mad, Uncle Joe Stalin that would mean curtains for them!
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