Cast & Crew
One morning in Communist-controlled Prague, patriotic, efficient secretary Anna Svoboda reports for work at the office of her new boss, Karl Marek, an animated young man recently returned from a diplomatic assignment in Washington, D.C. When Anna's pencil breaks during dictation, Karl eagerly shows her one of America's latest inventions, the electric pencil sharpener. Commenting on her plain appearance, he then hands her some lipstick and offers to give her the American dress he bought for his niece, who, he claims, has gotten too fat to wear it, like most of the women in Czechoslovakia. Irritated by Karl's criticisms, Anna asks why he ever left America, and he retorts that he has been wondering the same thing. Anna is shocked by Karl's bold remark and rushes to inform Anton Novotny, Karl's supervisor. Despite her protests, Novotny insists that Anna continue working for Karl. That night at home, Anna, who lives with her parents and young brother, is summoned by Emil Dadak, the Chief of Political Police. Noting that Karl is under suspicion, Dadak orders Anna to befriend him and report any questionable activities. The next day, Anna makes a conscious effort to be pleasant with Karl, and he invites her to lunch. During the meal, Karl pokes fun at the government's banning of Dmitri Shostakovich's music and tells an anti-Communist joke. Later, following instructions, Anna uses a public telephone to call Dadak and gives him the details of her lunch. Unknown to Anna, Karl is working for Dadak, helping him to discover whether Anna would make an incorruptible, loyal secretary for Novotny in America. As part of their plan, Karl confiscates from customs a cocktail dress, high heels and jewelry and invites Anna to dinner. Decked out in her stylish outfit, Anna attracts much attention at the restaurant and, in spite of herself, enjoys dancing and drinking champagne with Karl. Afterward, Anna and Karl walk to his apartment, but Anna declines to come up. Instead she scurries off to phone Dadak, who orders her to return to Karl's. Anna heads back to the apartment, unaware that she is being followed by Kudelka, a restaurant owner and family friend who has been awkwardly courting her. When Kudelka sees Anna go up to Karl's, he dashes off to tell her overly protective father. In Karl's apartment, meanwhile, the now-tipsy Anna gleefully dons some nylons he offers and jumps at the chance to take a bubble bath in his bathroom. As soon as she gets in the bath, however, her father and Kudelka come pounding at the door. After Anna angrily sends her father and would-be suitor away, Karl kisses her, and she runs off, confused. Anna dutifully informs Dadak about her evening, then seeks his help getting her father and Kudelka out of jail after they become drunk and disorderly. Karl continues his calculated wooing of Anna until Novotny tells Dadak that he is departing for America in two days and must have a secretary. As a final test, Karl takes Anna to a bar, where a woman posing as a distraught drunk slips him some letters. At his apartment, Karl admits to Anna that the letters are from friends in America and deliberately leaves her alone so she may peek at them. After reading a particularly incriminating passage, Anna excuses herself and goes home. Karl is at Dadak's office when Anna calls and hears her describe their evening together without any mention of the letters. Dadak becomes suspicious of Karl and arranges for his network of spies to follow him. Later, Dadak shows up at Karl's apartment and orders him to summon Anna and give her $500 with which she and her family can bribe the border guards and escape the country. While Dadak hides, Karl asks Anna to flee Czechoslovakia with him and hands her the money. After agreeing to meet Karl in three hours, Anna leaves. Five hours later, with no word from Anna, Dadak informs both Karl and Novotny that he must arrest her. Karl protests that Anna is not a traitor but merely in love with him, but Dadak is unmoved. Finally Anna phones and asks to see Dadak in his office. There, as Karl hides, Anna tells Dadak about the escape plan, and he happily reassigns her to Novotny's office. Later, Karl goes to the Svobodas' and discovers that Anna suddenly changed her mind about fleeing after receiving a phone call from Novotny. Karl then arrests the entire family and Kudelka. Anna, meanwhile, reports to Novotny and thanks him for calling her and warning her about Dadak. Just as Novotny reveals that she is going to America with him, they are both arrested and thrown into a truck with the Svobodas. After an all-night drive, the truck crosses a border and stops. The group is startled to discover that they are now in the U.S. sector of Austria, and that their driver is Karl. Embracing, Karl and Anna look forward to a happy future together in America.
Herschel Burke Gilbert
Lady Elisabeth Montague
Arthur H. Nadel
Maurie M. Suess
The film's onscreen title card is preceded by the following written acknowledgment: "The picture you are about to see was filmed in it's [sic] entirety in occupied Austria. We wish to thank both the State Dept. and the Armed Forces of the United States, without whose help and protection this picture could not have been made." The title card is superimposed over animated footage depicting a Bavarian man pulling back a stage curtain labelled "The Iron Curtain." According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Briskin-Smith Productions and Joseph Justman, who had an interest in the company, purchased Laslo Vadnay and Hans Wilhelm's screenplay in March 1951.
Morjay Productions, which is listed in contemporary sources as the film's production company, was apparently another company controlled by Briskin. According to a late March 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Dick Powell and Warner Bros. also considered purchasing the property. RKO head Howard Hughes bought the completed film in March 1952, according to a Los Angeles Times item. According to a October 7, 1951 Los Angeles Daily News news item, the picture was shot entirely in Vienna. In the item, Briskin is quoted as saying that many Austrian actors were afraid to work on the picture because of Communist threats and that the production was "watched" by Russians. Director Don Siegel and star Viveca Lindfors were married at the time of production.