A Prize of Gold


1h 40m 1955

Brief Synopsis

A U.S. officer in postwar Berlin turns to crime to help a beautiful refugee.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 1955
Premiere Information
London opening: May 1955
Production Company
Warwick Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Berlin,Germany,; Berlin,Germany; London,Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain; London,Great Britain,
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Prize of Gold by Max Catto (London, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

In a canal dividing the British and American zones in occupied Berlin, a contracting foreman discovers numerous bars of gold, dumped there during the war. U.S. military police Sgt. Joe Lawrence receives the British tabulations of the gold and on the way to deliver the report to U.S. headquarters, takes British Sgt. Roger Morris to his apartment. While Joe shows off his spacious quarters, his jeep is stolen by a young boy, whom Joe chases through the city's ruins to a series of underground tunnels, where he is startled to find a number of other children, orphaned war refugees being cared for by Dr. Zachmann and Maria Kohler. Maria apologizes for Conrad, the young thief, and Joe, touched by the children's plight and Maria's charm, later lies to his commanding officer, Major Bracken, about the incident, taking full blame. Roger tells Joe that the gold is being shipped in several transports to the military custodian of ex-enemy property in London and Roger is escorting the first shipment over. Joe returns to the tunnels to get to know Maria and learns that she works part-time for a wealthy contractor, Hans Fischer, who she hopes will sponsor the children's relocation to Brazil, where they can put the horrors of the war behind them. Later Joe meets Fischer back at the tunnel, and both men take an instant dislike to each other. Joe sees Maria again the following day and is disturbed when she admits that she became friends with Fischer to assure the children's care. Roger then returns from London and suggests a shady scheme for the next gold shipment, but Joe refuses to listen. Joe takes Maria dancing that evening, but when he reveals his feelings for her, she tells him they must stop seeing each other as Fischer has already expressed jealousy. Joe is angered, but Maria pleads that it must be so for the sake of the children. When Joe is ordered to escort the second gold shipment with Roger to London, he hastens to the tunnels to bid farewell to Maria, but when he finds her with Fischer, a fistfight breaks out between the men. Fischer departs angrily and Maria laments that Joe has spoiled everything as Fischer had just agreed to provide the money for the Brazilian trip. Joe promises Maria he will help her, and on the transport flight to London, Joe asks Roger to detail his plan for stealing the gold. Roger reveals that they might be able to hijack the next shipment with the help of his uncle, Dan Watson, and his wartime associate, Alfie Stratton. In London Dan, Roger and Joe visit Alfie, a former black market dealer who initially insists he is no longer in the business, having settled in comfort with his wife in their own home. Once Alfie learns the size of the gold shipment, however he offers to advise the men, but Joe talks him into participating. Alfie agrees on the condition that he get one quarter of the proceeds and gets to select a former war buddy, Brian, to fly the hijacked plane to an empty English field. Joe distrusts the wise-cracking Brian, but is forced to agree with the set-up and Brian's demand for one fourth of the gold. The day after Joe and Roger return to London, Brian arrives, pretending to be a tourist, and Joe checks him into a pension to wait until the next shipment date. Joe is alarmed, however, when Roger informs him that he has learned the next shipment will be that night. Joe hastily visits Maria and assures her she will have the money for the children soon. Joe then steals one of Bracken's uniforms for Brian and wrangles his way into being assigned to escort the gold. Dan receives Joe's cable and demands that Alfie assist him as there is little time to finish the arrangements. Using forged orders, Joe gets Brian aboard the transport plane as a special military courier. In England, Dan forces Alfie to participate in the transfer when his car breaks down. Mid-way into the transport flight, Joe, Roger and Brian destroy the radio and take over the plane, and Brian lands the plane safely by Dan's and Alfie's car lights. Upon moving the gold to Dan's truck, however, the pilot and co-pilot attack Joe and Roger and, shutting the plane doors, attempt to take off. Despite Joe's interference, Brian shoots at the plane, which crashes into Alfie's car and bursts into flames. Joe and Roger are horrified but Brian insists they all flee. At Dan's garage in London, Alfie is heartsick over his car being identified in the plane wreck, while Joe and Roger decide that they must return the gold and give themselves up. While Brian naps, Dan agrees to Joe's plan, but Alfie remains dismayed until Joe tells him he will be safe if he agrees to pay him 5,000 pounds and report his car as stolen. Dan and Alfie depart and when Brian wakens, he scoffs at Joe's decision and, at gunpoint, insists on taking his share of the gold. Roger attempts to jump Brian, but is flung out the window to his death. Brian knocks Joe unconscious then attempts to escape in the gold-filled truck, only to be stopped by a delivery truck blocking the drive. Taking as much gold as he can carry in his coat pockets, Brian flees on foot with a revived Joe in pursuit. Brian desperately runs across a drawbridge while it is opening, but falls to his death in the canal. Joe gives a complete testimony to Bracken, who informs him that the air crew managed to escape from the burning plane. At the air field, while waiting to be transferred stateside for his court-martial, Joe spots Maria, Dr. Zachmann and the children boarding the plane for Brazil, having mysteriously received Alfie's money. Bracken allows Joe to say goodbye to Maria, and he promises her that he will join her as soon as he is able.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 1955
Premiere Information
London opening: May 1955
Production Company
Warwick Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Berlin,Germany,; Berlin,Germany; London,Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain; London,Great Britain,
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Prize of Gold by Max Catto (London, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Articles

A Prize of Gold


Filmed on location in Berlin, Germany, where the bombed-out ruins of World War II added to the film's dramatic impact, A Prize of Gold (1955) was the story of a U.S. military police sergeant (Richard Widmark) on assignment there who becomes romantically involved with a beautiful refugee (Mai Zetterling), whose son has become a thief due to the desperate economic circumstances of that time.

Unlike The Third Man, another postwar thriller which capitalized on the war-torn atmosphere of Vienna, A Prize of Gold was not a boxoffice success but it remains an offbeat entry in Richard Widmark's career. Variety reported that it had a "leaden and synthetic plot...belabored...But the German and English backgrounds, rather garishly tinted in Technicolor, are intriguing. For what it's worth, the sprightly Nigel Patrick, as the real villain, walks off with the picture."

Following A Prize of Gold, Widmark would attempt another atypical character role - playing a psychiatrist in The Cobweb (1955) - but then returned to a more familiar genre to play the hero in Backlash (1956), a western directed by John Sturges.

Producers: Irving Allen, Albert R. Broccoli, Phil C. Samuel
Director: Mark Robson
Screenplay: Robert Buckner, John Paxton; Max Catto (novel)
Cinematography: Ted Moore
Art Direction: John Box
Music: Malcolm Arnold
Film Editing: Bill Lewthwaite
Cast: Richard Widmark (Sergeant Joe Lawrence), Mai Zetterling (Maria), George Cole (Sergeant Roger Morris), Donald Wolfit (Stratton), Joseph Tomelty (Uncle Dan), Andrew Ray (Conrad), Karel Stepanek (Zachmann), Robert Ayres (Tex)
C-97m.
A Prize Of Gold

A Prize of Gold

Filmed on location in Berlin, Germany, where the bombed-out ruins of World War II added to the film's dramatic impact, A Prize of Gold (1955) was the story of a U.S. military police sergeant (Richard Widmark) on assignment there who becomes romantically involved with a beautiful refugee (Mai Zetterling), whose son has become a thief due to the desperate economic circumstances of that time. Unlike The Third Man, another postwar thriller which capitalized on the war-torn atmosphere of Vienna, A Prize of Gold was not a boxoffice success but it remains an offbeat entry in Richard Widmark's career. Variety reported that it had a "leaden and synthetic plot...belabored...But the German and English backgrounds, rather garishly tinted in Technicolor, are intriguing. For what it's worth, the sprightly Nigel Patrick, as the real villain, walks off with the picture." Following A Prize of Gold, Widmark would attempt another atypical character role - playing a psychiatrist in The Cobweb (1955) - but then returned to a more familiar genre to play the hero in Backlash (1956), a western directed by John Sturges. Producers: Irving Allen, Albert R. Broccoli, Phil C. Samuel Director: Mark Robson Screenplay: Robert Buckner, John Paxton; Max Catto (novel) Cinematography: Ted Moore Art Direction: John Box Music: Malcolm Arnold Film Editing: Bill Lewthwaite Cast: Richard Widmark (Sergeant Joe Lawrence), Mai Zetterling (Maria), George Cole (Sergeant Roger Morris), Donald Wolfit (Stratton), Joseph Tomelty (Uncle Dan), Andrew Ray (Conrad), Karel Stepanek (Zachmann), Robert Ayres (Tex) C-97m.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A January 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item refers to the film as Crock of Gold, but this title is most likely an error. News items from April 1953 to June 1953 and information on the film in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library reveal that an initial screenplay was completed by British playwright R. C. Sheriff, but his contribution to the finished script has not been confirmed. The film was shot on location in Berlin and London.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 1955

Released in United States Summer June 1955