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Watch on the Rhine
Watch on the Rhine
Actors: Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Lucile Watson, Beulah Bondi
Director: Herman Shumlin
NR     1hr 52min

AN AUTHENTIC REGION 1 DVD FROM WARNER BROTHERS. — Lillian Hellman's 1941 stage hit (adapted by Dashiell Hammett) retains its emotional and intellectual power in this suspenseful movie awarded the New York Film Critics 1943 ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Lucile Watson, Beulah Bondi
Director: Herman Shumlin
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1943
Run Time: 1hr 52min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Subtitles: English, French

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Movie Reviews

Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 11/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a highly enjoyable, classic film based upon a Lillian Hellman play about the fight against facism during World War II, before Americans became embroiled in the war. The screenplay adaptation, which was co-authored by Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, is terrific. It tells the story of a German resistance leader, Kurt Muller, who comes to America, traveling incognito with his American born wife, Sarah, and three children, and visits his wife's wealthy mother and brother in their beautiful antebellum style mansion.During their visit, they make the acquaintance of a Roumanian expatriate who is there as a house guest together with a his wife, a hometown girl and friend of the family. The Roumanian, a Nazi sympathizer, who frequently visits the German embassy, ultimately clashes with Muller, as irreconciable philosophical differences come to a head in a rousing climax.Paul Lukas, who plays the noble freedom fighter with consummate dignity and passion, steals the show. A finer piece of acting is hard to find. He deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his heartfelt and heroic portrayal of Kurt Muller. It is, without a doubt, a performance to remember. Bette Davis plays it smart and gives a fine, though somewhat restrained, performance as a loyal and altruistic wife. She is luminous in the role. Lucille Watson is marvelous as Sarah's dominant, generous, and larger than life mother. A very young and beautiful Geraldine Fitzgerald effectively plays the role of wife to the disreputable Roumanian expatriate, a wife disgusted with her husband's politics and lack of character, making her susceptible to the infinitely more alluring charms of Sarah's kind brother. The three childrem are stiff in their roles and, though affording some comic relief, are the only weakness in this otherwise compelling drama.This is a marvelous movie that will appeal to those who love classic films. Fans of Bette Davis will also enjoy this film, provided that they do not expect a histrionic, over the top performance by Bette. This film is entirely, though quietly, dominated by Paul Lukas."
Paul Lukas' Finest Hour
James L. | 04/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"For those expecting the usually exciting and florid performance from Bette Davis, this film may come as a bit of a surprise. Davis is subdued, but very effective, as the wife of an anti-fascist German freedom fighter during World War Two, who has come home to her family in Washington so that she, her husband, and her children may have a rest from the difficult and dangerous life they have been leading. Paul Lukas gives a sincere and quietly emotional performance as her heroic husband who must make some difficult decisions to protect his friends and family. Lucille Watson is terrific as Davis' strong and opinionated mother, while the young actors who portray the children are a bit stiff. The movie has a number of political speeches about anti-fascism that would have been appropriate since the film was released during the War, but the strong characters and drama of the story don't allow the speeches to dominate. Watch on the Rhine is an unusual film for Davis, but it is certainly a good one."
Famous film, perfect print but dreadful commentary
Douglas M | 05/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"A powerful and impressive film, "Watch on the Rhine", based on a Lillian Hellman Broadway hit, still resonates today. Amazon themselves have described the film admirably with Paul Lukas's towering performance supported ably by a subdued Bette Davis and surrounded by a number of the Broadway cast. The film is static, reflecting its stagebound roots, but it does not matter because it is the screenplay by Dashiell Hammett, Hellman's lover at the time, which really counts. There are some great monologues.

The print of the film is perfect and Warner's Night at the Movies covers some interesting ground. The Newsreel, called "Bombs for Hamburg", while missing its soundtrack, is vivid propaganda for the war machine. Ozzie Nelson and his band are featured in a short film with 5 musical numbers one being a group singing "Chinatown, my Chinatown" in close harmony - delightful. The cartoon has Daffy Duck causing havoc to Porky Pig. Daffy does a mock strip in preparation for the oven and this is hilarious.

The dud of this set is the commentary delivered by one Bernard F. Dick, a biographer of Lillian Hellman, Claudette Colbert and Hal Walllis, the film's producer. A commentary, however good the content, can not be detached from the delivery of the commentator himself. This is fair game because after all it is an aural experience. Not only does Dick barely talk about the film, concentrating on Hellman's history and somehow introducing Colbert into the discussion while panning Davis, but his blurred diction and pretentious delivery are ghastly.

The DVD is excellent value if purchased as part of the Davis Set Volume 3."
Timely and affecting
Arthur R. Krieck | New York, NY USA | 01/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In spite of its creaky melodramatic trappings and talky, static stretches, this adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play is still meaningful and moving after more than sixty years. Hellman could write crackling, passionate and original-sounding dialogue, and this fine troupe of performers brings it intensely to life. It's clear that they all believed passionately in this project and they gave it everything they had.

Paul Lukas, repeating his stage performance, plays with simplicity and passion. Watson is strong and amusing as the crusty but loving mother. And Davis, in a supporting but vital role...well, this is some of the best work of her long career. No tricks, no mugging, no over-the-top gestures that marred her later work, just intense, in-the-moment playing, with great style, always in character, unafraid to play someone her own age and a mother, and listening and reacting to the other players. This was one of the 20th century's great talents, and it shines here."