Friendly Enemies


1h 35m 1942

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 26, 1942
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 19 Jun 1942
Production Company
Edward Small Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Friendly Enemies by Samuel Shipman and Aaron Hoffman (New York, 22 Jul 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,580ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

In the early days of World War I, Karl Pfeiffer, a German-born American who made his wealth in the brewery business in New York City, stands in opposition to President Woodrow Wilson's decision to send American troops to Europe. He fears that the people in his "Fatherland" will be obliterated by the Allied forces. Because Karl is excessively proud of his German heritage and has his own peculiar notions about how best to bring about peace in the world, he becomes susceptible to the manipulations of saboteur Anton Miller. Miller introduces himself to Karl as "George Stewart" and convinces Karl to donate $50,000 to a supposed propaganda campaign designed to end the war. Karl tells Miller that he can pick up the check the following day at his Upper East Side apartment. That night, Maria, his wife of thirty years, and June Block, his soon-to-be daughter-in-law, are preparing a dinner for June's father, Henry Block. Henry is an assimilated German-American with political views that are in direct opposition to those held by Karl. As soon as the two men come together, their usual quarreling ensues. Karl's opinions and his explosive temper are familiar to all who know him, and it is because of this that his family has kept secret the fact that his son William has enlisted in the American army. The secret is soon out of the bag, though, when William arrives with news of his regiment's departure for Europe and requests that his family assemble for an early wedding. Karl is devastated by the news and angrily storms out of the apartment. He returns the next day and tries, unsuccessfully, to convince his son to reconsider his decision. When Miller collects the $50,000 check from Karl, he discovers that Karl is a friend of the wealthy Henry, and asks that he arrange a meeting with him. Soon after William boards his transport ship for Europe, Karl gets a telephone call from Miller, who informs him that his money was used to help sink the transport ship as it was leaving harbor. Now realizing that he was horribly misled by Miller, Karl vows revenge and plans to kill him. Henry's cool-headedness prevails, though, and the two decide to snare the saboteur instead. Soon after Miller arrives at Karl's to meet Henry, he is coaxed into revealing his true identity, at which point the police enter and arrest him. Karl's son, it turns out, did not perish in the ship tragedy and returns home safely. Reunited with his son, Karl vows to reject his earlier political beliefs and insists that henceforth his family refer to strudel as "apple pie." Karl then celebrates his newly found American patriotism by joining his family in a rousing chorus of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 26, 1942
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 19 Jun 1942
Production Company
Edward Small Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Friendly Enemies by Samuel Shipman and Aaron Hoffman (New York, 22 Jul 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,580ft (10 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Sound

1942

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The play on which this film is based was produced on Broadway by A. H. Woods and featured Louis Mann and Sam Bernard in the starring roles. The play ran two seasons on Broadway before it was taken on the road. Actor Charles Winninger appeared in the stage version of Friendly Enemies in 1918. A February 6, 1942 Hollywood Reporter production chart lists Sharon Douglas in the cast, but her participation in the released film has not been confirmed. President Woodrow Wilson provided the foreword to this film, and according to the publicity material, it marked the first time that a picture featured a direct quote from a President of the United States regarding the subject matter of the film. Publicity material also relates the difficulties that properties man Ken Walton encountered in trying to procure a German-language newspaper as a prop for the film at a time when the FBI was enforcing strict bans on the printing of German publications. Walton, according to the publicity sheet, was granted access to an FBI-impounded German-language press in Los Angeles only after an FBI investigation into the matter was completed and after two affidavits were filed by the production company stating that no actual publications with German type would be distributed. The play was first adapted for the screen in 1925, when Producers Distributing Corp. released a version of Friendly Enemies directed by George Melford and starring Lew Fields and Joe Weber (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1972). Friendly Enemies was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Recording.