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The Seventh Cross

The Seventh Cross(1944)

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Voice-over narration spoken by Ray Collins as the spirit of character "Ernst Wallau" is heard intermittently throughout the film. Onscreen credits list Steven Geray's character name as "Dr. Loewenstein," although in the film itself his name is spelled "Lowenstein." According to reviews and director Fred Zinnemann's autobiography, Anna Seghers, on whose novel the film is based, was a German refugee who escaped from Nazi Germany to Mexico. Hollywood Reporter news items provide the following information about the production: In September 1942, after a deal involving Twentieth Century-Fox fell through, the book was withdrawn from the film market. Director/producer Otto Preminger then purchased the rights to it, intending to produce it as a stage play. Viola Brothers Shore was hired to write the stage adaptation in collaboration with Seghers, but no information regarding a theatrical production of the book has been found. William Dieterle was first announced as the film's director.
       The Seventh Cross marked Zinnemann's first major directing assignment. Stage star Jessica Tandy made her American screen acting debut and Katherine Locke made her screen debut in the film. The Seventh Cross also marked the first time in which Tandy and real-life husband Hume Cronyn appeared together onscreen. Hollywood Reporter announced in November 1943 that M-G-M was hoping to sign Pola Negri for a featured role, but she did not appear in the completed film. Some scenes were shot in orchards near Riverside, CA, according to Hollywood Reporter. According to an October 1944 Life magazine article, M-G-M arranged an elaborate publicity contest for the picture in which a "wanted poster" featuring a photograph of Tracy's stand-in, Roy Thomas, was plastered around seven U.S. cities, including Boston and San Francisco, and a $500 war bond was offered to the first person in each city who spotted and reported Thomas. Thomas was spotted in all seven cities. According to Zinnemann's autobiography, Berthold Viertel helped cast the film. Zinnemann also noted that Robert Surtees took over as director of photography for a few days when Karl Freund became ill. Hume Cronyn received an Academy Award nomination in the Actor in a Supporting Role category.