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A World War II refugee fights to stay in the U.S.
After World War II, the United Nations International Refugee Organization arranges for displaced persons to leave Europe and come to America. Among the refugees arriving onboard a U.N. ship to New York harbor is concentration camp survivor Peter Kuban, who has been placed under arrest for stowing away. Under questioning by U.S. Immigrations Inspector Bailey, Peter reveals that he was born in Hungary and has spent ten years in numerous camps, including Auschwitz, where his entire family was gassed. Bailey informs Peter that because he boarded the refugee ship illegally, his appeal to remain in America must be rejected. Dismayed, Peter points out that a U.N. statute recently voted into law declares that anyone assisting the Allied forces during the war will be granted sanctuary. Peter reveals that just before the end of the war, he escaped from Auschwitz and rescued an American parachutist and cared for him. Pressed for further details by Bailey, Peter admits he knew the soldier only as Tom, a jazz clarinetist, whose home was near Times Square in New York City. Peter pleads for the opportunity to locate Tom, but Bailey refuses. Later that night, while Peter is being held in the brig, his guard gives him a newspaper featuring a full page photo of Peter and the story of his rejection. Overcome with fear of being returned to Europe, Peter knocks over the guard and bolts the ship. Although injuring his ribs in the escape, Peter manages to jump onto the back of a truck and flee the harbor. In the city, Peter makes his way to the subway and, having a little American money, follows directions to Times Square. Back at the immigration office, Bailey remains skeptical about Peter's story, but security officer Toomey suggests that if Peter is telling the truth, they should search for him in Times Square. The ship's captain reminds Bailey that if Peter is not returned to the ship by the departure time of seven the next morning, Peter will be declared a fugitive. Although mesmerized by Times Square, Peter visits several nightclubs looking for Tom. Much later, Peter wearily stops at an all-night cafeteria for coffee and watches as Maggie Summers, an unemployed factory worker, attempts to steal a coat. When the coat's owner shouts for the police, Maggie dashes from the cafeteria. Peter runs after Maggie and, to her astonishment, helps her avoid the police. Peter then asks Maggie to take him to her apartment and, fearful that Peter may turn her in if she refuses, Maggie reluctantly agrees. Exhausted and in pain from his injury, Peter hopes to rest briefly at Maggie's, but they are interrupted by her landlady, Mrs. Hinckley, who demands payment on the overdue rent. Peter offers Maggie his meager amount of money and, startled by his kindness, Maggie accepts. Realizing that he is an additional burden to Maggie, Peter starts to leave, but overcome by fatigue, collapses. Upon reviving, Peter shows Maggie the newspaper article describing his plight. Meanwhile, in the local musicians' union lounge, Tom, the former G.I. and clarinet player, is visited by his girl friend Nancy with the news that she has arranged an audition for Tom with Jack Teagarden and his band during a broadcast performance. Enthused, Tom hurries to clean up, but in the men's room comes across the newspaper carrying Peter's story. Recognizing Peter, Tom tells Nancy that he must try to find him, but Nancy insists that the audition could provide the break Tom needs, which would allow them to marry after five years of waiting. Chastened, Tom agrees and he and Nancy leave for the audition. Back at Maggie's, when Mrs. Hinckley's son Eddie forces his way into Maggie's apartment, Peter comes to her rescue only to be beaten by Eddie. Maggie stuns Eddie by hitting him with a chair, then she and Peter flee. Several blocks away, Maggie pilfers twenty cents from two young street dancers, telling Peter that for a dime, each of them can ride all night on the subway. Having discovered the newspaper story about Peter, Mrs. Hinckley tells the police that Peter assaulted Eddie. Soon, television reports describe Peter as a dangerous and desperate escapee. While the police continue to search Times Square, Tom plays several numbers with Jack Teagarden's band. Then, disturbed by reoccurring thoughts of Peter's dilemma, Tom abruptly departs the audition and goes to the police. In the subway, when police officers approach Peter and Maggie, Peter jumps across the tracks and escapes. Maggie is taken to the local precinct where she meets Tom and the two implore the police to assist Peter. Wandering through the square, Peter stumbles into a burlesque club and asks for Tom. After he is thrown out of the club, Peter collapses in an empty cab parked in the alley. Later, dancer Bella Zakolya rouses the cab driver and is then startled to find the unconscious Peter in the vehicle. After stopping at nearby police headquarters, Bella learns that Peter is a refugee and takes him home. On the way, Peter revives and Bella reassures him by confiding that her parents were immigrants. A little later, at Bella's apartment, her brother Freddie arrives home and, upon learning of Peter's presence, is fearful of being questioned by police. Resting in the bedroom, Peter overhears Bella, Freddie and Mrs. Zakolya discuss contacting the U.N. about him. Determined not to cause further problems, Peter leaves through the fire escape and begins searching for the U.N. building. As dawn breaks, Maggie, Tom and Bailey cruise the streets and then receive a police report that Peter has been sighted near the U.N. Hastening there, along with several patrol cars, the group moves in on Peter, who, panicked, races inside the building through a loading dock. Distraught to find the offices empty and no one to whom he may turn for help, Peter continues to flee his pursuers until he reaches the rooftop. Determined not to go back to Europe, Peter contemplates throwing himself from the building, until Tom and Maggie reach him. When Tom vows to sponsor Peter, he collapses gratefully into his friend's arms.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in San Francisco, CA: 20 Mar 1953|
|Release Date:||1953||Production Date:||
AFI* Col; EBXX
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Columbia Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Shane-Tors Productions|
|Duration(mins):||78 or 80||Country:||United States|
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Show the Glass Wall
Please show this movie on Noir Alley sometime. Thanks.