Above Suspicion


1h 30m 1943
Above Suspicion

Brief Synopsis

A honeymooning couple are asked to spy on the Nazis in pre-war Europe.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Adventure
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1943
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes (Boston, 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,138ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

In spring 1939, American-born Oxford professor Richard Myles and his American bride Frances begin their honeymoon at an English roadside inn, registering under the names Mr. and Mrs. Edward Smith. Their first night together is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Peter Galt, a former classmate of Richard's, now employed by the Foreign Office. Aware that the newlyweds are headed for southern Germany, Peter asks Richard and Frances to track down a scientist "friend," who has information about a magnetic mine the Germans have developed. Richard and Frances eagerly agree to help, feeling that as American tourists, they are "above suspicion." Upon arriving in Paris, Frances buys a hat decorated with a rose, which is to serve as a signal for their contacts. In a Parisian restaurant, Frances and Richard meet up with their first contact, who silently instructs them to go to a café in Montmartre. There, a guide book to southern Germany is slipped into Richard's coat pocket. Frances and Richard notice a series of pinpricks on a map in the book, and Frances discovers that, when connected, the dots become the opening notes to the song "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose." The guide book also indicates that the couple is to go to Austria, to a certain bookstore in German-occupied Salzburg. At the bookstore, the newlyweds mention the song title, and under the noses of some Gestapo officers, the owner, A. Werner, signals them to head for a Salzburg museum. There, a tour guide named Hassert Seidel suggests that they check into a guest house run by Frau Kleist. After a few uneventful days at the guest house, Frau Kleist gives Frances and Richard a biography of Franz Liszt, aware that the couple is planning to attend a concert of Liszt's music that night. From markings in the book, Richard and Frances deduce that they are to go to a village called Pertisau, near Innsbruck, and inquire about a man who collects chess pieces. Before leaving for the concert, Richard meets fellow boarder Thornley, a recent Oxford graduate. Although Thornley, who has been practicing a noisy passage from Liszt's first piano concerto, advises Richard not to attend the concert, the couple goes anyway. At the concert, as the orchestra plays the same passage that Thornley had been practicing, a Nazi colonel is shot and killed. Nazi officials insist on questioning the entire audience, but Richard and Frances are rescued by Count Sig von Aschenhausen, a former Oxford schoolmate of Richard's. At Richard's behest, the count also intervenes on Thornley's behalf and invites all three visitors to his mother's nearby estate. There, Sig comments that the assassin must have been familiar with the Liszt concerto and asks Thornley to play the passage for him. Thornley claims not to know the piece, but later Thornley admits to Richard that he killed the Nazi as revenge for torturing and killing his Austrian girl friend. The next day, in Pertisau, the owner of a collectors' shop directs the newlyweds to the home of Dr. Mespelbrunn. While waiting to see the doctor, Richard and Frances notice the sheet music for "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose" on his piano. Just then, Sig appears, explaining that he has come to see Mespelbrunn on important business. When Sig does not respond to a signal that Richard gives him, the couple becomes suspicious. They then hear thumping noises upstairs and discover that Sig is holding Mespelbrunn prisoner. Before Frances and Richard can free the doctor, Sig and his Nazi cohorts interrupt them. The Americans flee to the surrounding woods, where they are surprised by the timely arrival of Hassert. With Hassert's help, Frances and Richard free Mespelbrunn, and all four head for Innsbruck. Outside Innsbruck, a now-disguised Mespelbrunn gives Richard a paper with the mine information on it, states the names of several trustworthy men, then goes his way. Hassert drives Richard and Frances, who are disguised in Tyrolean clothes, to Innsbruck, instructing them to obtain passports from a couple named Schultz. At the Schultzes, Richard and Frances dress as elderly people and have their photographs taken for their forged identification. After sending the newlyweds on their separate ways, the Schultzes are arrested by the Gestapo, who discover the negatives from Richard and Frances' passport photos. As she is about to reunite with Richard, Frances is spotted by Thornley, who also happens to be in Innsbruck. Frances is then picked up by the Gestapo, but manages to tell Thornley where to meet Richard. Thornley alerts Richard to his wife's plight, and Richard seeks Hassert's help. Waiting until most of the Gestapo have left headquarters for the night, Richard, Thornley and Hassert sneak in and, with guns blasting, take Frances' interrogators by surprise. The men steal some Nazis' uniforms and flee with Frances, who has been beaten, but as they are escaping, Thornley is killed. In a Nazi car, Hassert and Richard hide Frances, then drive to the Italian border. After fooling the Nazi border guards, Hassert and the newlyweds finally find freedom.

Cast

Joan Crawford

Frances Myles [also known as Mrs. Edward Smith]

Fred Macmurray

Richard Myles [also known as Edward Smith]

Conrad Veidt

Hassert Seidel

Basil Rathbone

[Count] Sig von Aschenhausen

Reginald Owen

Dr. Mespelbrunn

Richard Ainley

Peter Galt

Cecil Cunningham

Countess [von Aschenhausen]

Ann Shoemaker

Aunt Ellen

Sara Haden

Aunt Hattie

Felix Bressart

Mr. A. Werner

Bruce Lester

Thornley

Johanna Hofer

Frau Kleist

Lotta Palfi

Ottilie

Alex Papana

Man in Paris

Rex Williams

Gestapo leader

Hans Von Morhart

Schmidt

William Yetter

Hauptman

Steve Geray

Anton

William "wee Willie" Davis

Hans

Lisa Golm

Frau Schultz

Ludwig Stossel

Herr Schultz

Ivan Simpson

Porter

Arthur Shields

Porter

Henry Glynn

Chauffeur

Eily Malyon

Manageress

Matthew Boulton

Constable Jones

Marcelle Corday

Maid

Frank Lackteen

Arab vendor

Charles Deravenne

Chasseur

Andre Charlot

Café manager

Frank Arnold

Poet

George Davis

Proprietor

Jack Chefe

Coatroom attendant

Felix Basch

Guide

Edit Angold

German woman

Irene Seidner

German woman

Lisl Valetti

Nazi girl

Paul Weigel

Elderly man

Otto Reichow

Gestapo voice/Gestapo in opera box

Giselle Werbiseck

Fat woman

Frank Reicher

Col. Gerold

Peter Seal

Col. Gerold's aide

Nicholas Vehr

Col. Gerold's aide

Henry Victor

German officer

Egon Brecher

Gestapo official

John Rice

Gestapo

Hans Furberg

Gestapo

Albert D'arno

Gestapo

Erno Verebes

Gestapo

Kurt Newman

Gestapo

Henry Guttman

Gestapo

Walter O. Stahl

Policeman

Steven Muller

German boy

Frank Brand

German boy

Frederick Bauer

German boy

Helen Boice

Fat dowager

Max Willenz

Waiter

Heather Thatcher

English girl

Jean Prescott

English girl

Sven-hugo Borg

German guard

Walter Bonn

German guard

Hans Schumm

Guard

Hans Wollenberger

Cook

Phil Van Zandt

Kurt

Lionel Royce

Officer at border

Joseph Devillard

Italian sentry

Harold Hensen

Boy student

Peter Lawford

Boy student

Barry Heenan

Boy student

David Lennox

Boy student

Sam Mccullough

Boy student

Clive Murdock

Boy student

George Aldwin

Boy student

Michael Chudley

Boy student

Horace Pressel

Boy student

Cliffe Oland

Boy student

Edwin Mills

Boy student

Gretl Dupont

Barmaid

Sonia Charsky

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Mme. Delia Borget

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Isabelle Lamore

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Nita Pike

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Chris Mario Meeker

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Serafina Davidoff

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Yvonne Chenal

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Sandra Morgan

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Albano Valerio

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Ray Deravenne

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Arthur Dulac

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Manuel Paris

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Antonio D'amore

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Eumenio Blanco

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Albert Petit

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Albert Godderis

Patron in Frisky Rabbit

Capt. John Van Eyck

Gestapo in book store

Edgar Licho

Guide in museum

Frederick Giermann

German border guard

Tony Caruso

Italian border sentry

Ferdinand Schumann-heink

Gestapo in opera box

Bob Stevenson

Gestapo in opera box

Louis Donath

Gestapo in Schultz laboratory

Julius Cramer

Gestapo in Schultz laboratory

Film Details

Genre
Action
Adventure
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1943
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes (Boston, 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,138ft (9 reels)

Articles

Above Suspicion


It's Joan Crawford vs. the Nazis in Above Suspicion (1943). Now highly entertaining as a prime example of World War II camp, MGM's wartime espionage drama won withering reviews at the time of its original release. Howard Barnes wrote in The New York Herald Tribune that "There are so many floral, musical and cryptographical passwords in the film's plot that the whole show becomes a sort of super treasure hunt... Unfortunately, neither Joan Crawford nor Fred MacMurray looks quite bright enough to unravel the tangled skeins of this screen melodrama." Even Crawford herself described this one as "undiluted hokum" and "no prize -- although I must say that both Fred MacMurray and I tried to make the spy nonsense plausible. I really wasn't suitable to the wartime melodramas they were turning out, and if a script was bad I was worse."

The plot of Above Suspicion has Oxford professor MacMurray and his bride, Crawford, on a honeymoon in prewar Germany, where they are actually working as secret agents for the British and trying to gain information about a super weapon being developed by the Nazis. With Nazis hot on their trail, they bumble their way through Germany and Austria, following enigmatic clues involving music and a red rose. In the plus column, the movie boasts expert performances by Basil Rathbone as a sneering Nazi aristocrat who imprisons and tortures Crawford (while never cracking her impeccable MGM gloss), and Conrad Veidt in his final performance as an Austrian resistance fighter. (Veidt died at age 50 of a heart attack shortly after the film was completed.)

Crawford herself is surprisingly restrained in what proved to be the final film of her 18-year stay at MGM. Some felt that, with such scripts as Above Suspicion, studio head L.B. Mayer was forcing the actress to walk out on her contract. Crawford, however, had the last laugh; within two years she would re-emerge triumphantly as a revitalized Warner Bros. star and Best Actress Oscar winner for Mildred Pierce (1945).

Producers: Victor Saville, Leon Gordon (Associate)
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Melville Baker, Patricia Coleman, Keith Winter, from novel by Helen MacInnes
Cinematography: Robert H. Planck
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Randall Duell
Original Music: Bronislau Kaper
Editing: George Hively
Costume Design: Irene, Gile Steele
Principal Cast: Joan Crawford (Frances Myles), Fred MacMurray (Richard Myles), Conrad Veidt (Count Hassert Seidel), Basil Rathbone (Count Sig von Aschenhausen), Reginald Owen (Dr. Mespelbrunn), Ricahrd Ainley (Peter Galt), Cecil Cunningham (Countess von Aschenhausen),
BW-91m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

By Roger Fristoe
Above Suspicion

Above Suspicion

It's Joan Crawford vs. the Nazis in Above Suspicion (1943). Now highly entertaining as a prime example of World War II camp, MGM's wartime espionage drama won withering reviews at the time of its original release. Howard Barnes wrote in The New York Herald Tribune that "There are so many floral, musical and cryptographical passwords in the film's plot that the whole show becomes a sort of super treasure hunt... Unfortunately, neither Joan Crawford nor Fred MacMurray looks quite bright enough to unravel the tangled skeins of this screen melodrama." Even Crawford herself described this one as "undiluted hokum" and "no prize -- although I must say that both Fred MacMurray and I tried to make the spy nonsense plausible. I really wasn't suitable to the wartime melodramas they were turning out, and if a script was bad I was worse." The plot of Above Suspicion has Oxford professor MacMurray and his bride, Crawford, on a honeymoon in prewar Germany, where they are actually working as secret agents for the British and trying to gain information about a super weapon being developed by the Nazis. With Nazis hot on their trail, they bumble their way through Germany and Austria, following enigmatic clues involving music and a red rose. In the plus column, the movie boasts expert performances by Basil Rathbone as a sneering Nazi aristocrat who imprisons and tortures Crawford (while never cracking her impeccable MGM gloss), and Conrad Veidt in his final performance as an Austrian resistance fighter. (Veidt died at age 50 of a heart attack shortly after the film was completed.) Crawford herself is surprisingly restrained in what proved to be the final film of her 18-year stay at MGM. Some felt that, with such scripts as Above Suspicion, studio head L.B. Mayer was forcing the actress to walk out on her contract. Crawford, however, had the last laugh; within two years she would re-emerge triumphantly as a revitalized Warner Bros. star and Best Actress Oscar winner for Mildred Pierce (1945). Producers: Victor Saville, Leon Gordon (Associate) Director: Richard Thorpe Screenplay: Melville Baker, Patricia Coleman, Keith Winter, from novel by Helen MacInnes Cinematography: Robert H. Planck Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Randall Duell Original Music: Bronislau Kaper Editing: George Hively Costume Design: Irene, Gile Steele Principal Cast: Joan Crawford (Frances Myles), Fred MacMurray (Richard Myles), Conrad Veidt (Count Hassert Seidel), Basil Rathbone (Count Sig von Aschenhausen), Reginald Owen (Dr. Mespelbrunn), Ricahrd Ainley (Peter Galt), Cecil Cunningham (Countess von Aschenhausen), BW-91m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video. By Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Onscreen credits list George Hively as the film's editor, but James Newcom is listed as editor in all Hollywood Reporter production charts. In December 1941, William Powell was announced as the male lead in the picture, and in July 1942, Myrna Loy was announced as his co-star. According to Hollywood Reporter, M-G-M cast the popular starring team in an attempt to break them out of their "Thin Man" mold. After Loy left M-G-M in October 1942, however, Fred MacMurray and Joan Crawford were cast in the leads. Above Suspicion marked the only time that MacMurray co-starred with Crawford, and was the first M-G-M picture in which he appeared. According to M-G-M production files, Stuart Hall coached Crawford and MacMurray in Cockney accents. Neither actor used a Cockney accent in the completed picture, however. Although Hollywood Reporter announced that George Glagori had portrayed a "Gestapo chief" in the picture, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter also announced that Leonard Walker was to conduct an orchestra in some scenes, but it has not been determined if he actually appeared onscreen. According to Hollywood Reporter, for authenticity's sake, female bit players in the Germany scenes were not allowed to wear makeup, as Hitler had banned the wearing of makeup in 1933. Some scenes were filmed at an abandoned Acme gypsum mine near Bishop, CA, and mountain scenes were shot at Mt. Wilson, east of Los Angeles, according to Hollywood Reporter. Conrad Veidt died of a heart attack on April 3, 1943; Above Suspicion was his last film.