powered by AFI
DVDs from TCM Shop
This film opens with a picture of Gregor Ziemer's novel Education for Death. As the book begins to seep blood, the film's credits appear. Ziemer, a news commentator and analyst for radio station WLW in Cincinnati, worked as an American educator in Germany before the war, according to news items in Hollywood Reporter and PM (Journal) magazine. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that the Allies dropped flyers containing a condensed version of Ziemer's best-selling novel over the captured countries of Europe. A pre-production news item adds that Ziemer was initially slated to write the script for this film. In 1942, Disney produced a one-reel film, titled Education for Death, based on Ziemer's novel. According to pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter, Martha Scott, Anita Louise and June Lockhart were considered for roles in this film. A Hollywood Reporter news item lists Lucy Daniel and Edgar Barrier in the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. Another Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Edward Dmytryk took over the direction from Irvin Reis on October 19, 1942. According to a New York Times article, Reis stormed off the set because of his inability to work with Tim Holt and Bonita Granville. Hollywood Reporter news items add that the U.S. Army Air Force delayed Holt's induction so that he could finish this picture. The vestments worn by H. B. Warner in the cathedral scene were over 400 years old, according to another news item in Hollywood Reporter. In CBCS, the character of Colonel Henkel is named Colonel Schwartz.
News items in Hollywood Reporter offer the following information about the film's premiere: Prior to the Cincinnati premiere, RKO presented a special preview presentation in theaters across the country, donating the receipts to the League of Nations. The Cincinnati premiere was sponsored by radio station WLW and featured an appearance by Ziemer. Ticket sales for this film were three hundred percent above average, breaking all existing records and making it the champion "sleeper" in RKO history. Modern sources note that the film cost $205,000 to produce and returned $3,555,000 in film rentals. Bonita Granville's performance led to a new contract with the studio. According to the Variety reviews, this was Edward Golden's first effort as a producer. A 1946 news item in Hollywood Reporter reports that Golden rejected RKO's offer to buy his film rights for $500,000. Bonita Granville and Otto Kruger reprised their roles in a May 24, 1943 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story.