Sealed Verdict


1h 23m 1948

Film Details

Also Known As
Dossier
Release Date
Nov 5, 1948
Premiere Information
New York opening: 2 Nov 1948
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Strasbourg,France; Europe
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sealed Verdict by Lionel Shapiro (Garden City, NY, 1947).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

On 20 June 1946, in Reschweiler, Germany, former New York attorney Major Robert Lawson, of the Judge Advocates General's Office, leads the prosecution in the trial of accused German war criminal General Otto Steigmann. Robert's chief witnesses, Slava Rodal and Maria Romanek, members of the undergound, claim that Steigmann gave the order for the Leemach Massacre, in which sixty war hostages were gunned down by Nazi troops. The defense's only witness is a beautiful French woman named Themis DeLisle, who testifies that Steigmann saved her father's life after he was accused of being part of the French underground. Seven weeks later, after Steigmann is sentenced to hang, Themis accuses Robert of sending an innocent man to his death. Robert's superior officer, General Kirkwood, congratulates him for a job well done and orders that the execution be done promptly to avoid a riot by the underground. Rodal then asks for two passes to the execution. All this leads Robert to suspect that Steigmann may have been set up as an example, and he begins to question the legality of the trial. Meanwhile, Robert's young American assistant, Private Clay Hockland, whose term in Europe is up, is shot in the street, and Clay's young German girl friend, Erika Wagner, is blamed. In the hospital, a dying Clay confesses to Robert that he shot himself, then reveals that Rodal threatened to kill Erika if Clay revealed the location of Steigmann's mother, which he learned through an anonymous tip to Robert's office. Ignoring Kirkwood's orders that Erika be tried for Clay's murder in order to appease the public, Robert, who has found Erika on the floor of her jail cell about to give birth, has her moved to a hospital. While conducting his own investigation, Robert locates Mrs. Emma Steigmann at the modest apartment of Hebrew teacher Jacob Meyersohn, who admits that he gave the anonymous tip to Clay. Despite the death of his own family at the hands of the Nazis, Meyersohn rescued Mrs. Steigmann because she had been a friend of his wife. Rodal had been protecting Emma's anonymity in exchange for money. Later, Rodal swears to Robert that Mrs. Steigmann still has her son's incriminating papers--a copy of the "Night and Fog" order, which gave Nazi officers permission to arrest any non-German at will, and a letter from Hitler congratulating him on the Leemach Massacre. Kirkwood, meanwhile, has arranged as a publicity stunt for Clay's Iowan parents--accompanied by gossip reporter Camilla Cameron--to be flown to his deathbed. By the time they arrive, however, Clay is dead, and Erika is in labor, dying. Armed with proof that Themis' father, who really was a member of the French underground, denounced her as a Nazi sympathizer, Kirkwood orders her arrest. Themis, meanwhile, has gone to give Mrs. Steigmann a message to destroy her son's "souvenirs," and for the first time, realizes that Steigmann is guilty. Mrs. Steigmann then refuses to let Themis leave, and in a rage, denounces the Jews in front of her appalled benefactor, Meyersohn. Mrs. Hockland, meanwhile, appeals to Robert to save her grandchild, and he gives Rodal two passes to Steigmann's execution in exchange for penicillin. Themis is then arrested after escaping from Mrs. Steigmann, and Robert rejects her new proof against Steigmann. Later, however, after Mrs. Hockland pledges to take her grandchild back to Iowa because the world needs more kindness, Robert has a change of heart and races to Meyersohn's. There he finds the burnt ashes of Steigmann's papers, and watches as Mrs. Steigmann proclaims that her son will be among the Nazi immortals. Although Themis has been ordered turned over to the French, Robert hides her in a deserted house and confesses his love. She finally explains that she pretended to be involved with Steigmann because if her father had known that an order from Steigmann had saved his life, he would not have accepted the help. She also tells Robert that the scar on Steigmann's face is fake. Robert promises to return to take Themis to Switzerland, and goes to Steigmann's cell. Moments before Steigmann's execution, Robert confronts him with the evidence of the papers, and tricks him into confessing that he is a Nazi. When Steigmann haughtily remarks that his name will be remembered along with Adolf Hitler's and Hermann Goering's, Robert slaps him, then cuts open the scar on his face to reveal two vials of poison, with which Steigmann was planning to kill himself. Steigmann is then led off to his execution, which Rodal and Maria witness. Robert picks up Themis and tells her that he must take her to Gribemont, but will be next to her in the courtroom, and long after.

Cast

Ray Milland

Major Robert Lawson

Florence Marley

Themis DeLisle

Broderick Crawford

Captain Kinsella

John Hoyt

General Otto Steigmann

John Ridgely

Captain Lance Nissen

Ludwig Donath

Jacob Meyersohn

Norbert Schiller

Slava Rodal

Dan Tobin

Lieutenant Parker

Olive Blakeney

Camilla Cameron

Marcel Journet

Captain Gribemont

Paul Lees

Private Clay Hockland

James Bell

Mr. Elmer Hockland

Elisabeth Risdon

Mrs. Cora Hockland

Frank Conroy

Colonel Pike

Celia Lovsky

Mrs. Emma Steigmann

June Jeffery

Erika Wagner

Patricia Miller

Maria Romanek

Selmar Jackson

Dr. Bossin

Charles Evans

General Kirkwood

Ann Doran

Ellie Blaine

Dorothy Grainger

Edna Brown

John Eldredge

Colonel Macklin

Anna Hope

Hedy

Douglas Spencer

Desk sergeant

Richard Glyn

German boy

Don Brown

German boy

William Meader

Lieutenant

Len Hendry

M.P.

Michael Brandon

Medical captain

Francis Morris

Nurse

Bill Neff

Air Force officer

Jerry James

Air Force officer

Victor Romito

Headwaiter

Holger Bendixen

German soldier

Otto Reichow

German soldier

Leo Schlesinger

German soldier

Walter Rode

German soldier

Paul Peter Szemere

Bartender

David Willock

Sgt. Burke

Carol Mathews

Nurse, outspoken WAC

Hal Rand

Gubbins

Tad Van Brunt

Photographer

Rae Patterson

WAC

John Wengraf

German doctor

Fay Wall

German nurse

Leslie Denison

Maj. Thornton

Esther Zeitlin

Maid at general's house

Torben Meyer

Interpreter

Russell Arms

Nissen's aide

Eric Alden

M.P. in corridor

Thomas Browne Henry

Maj. Gen. Marsden

Frank Eldredge

Studious sergeant

Edward Van Sloan

Priest

Audrey Westphall

Film Details

Also Known As
Dossier
Release Date
Nov 5, 1948
Premiere Information
New York opening: 2 Nov 1948
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Strasbourg,France; Europe
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sealed Verdict by Lionel Shapiro (Garden City, NY, 1947).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was Dossier. The opening credits of the film state that exterior scenes were photographed in Europe. The film opens with newsreel footage of Justice Robert Houghwout Jackson's address at the Nüremberg Tribunal of November 1945-October 1946. Jackson was the Chief Prosecutor for the United States at the Nüremberg Trials and was an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Technical advisor Gordon Dean served as Jackson's assistant during the Nüremberg trials. Sealed Verdict, CBS war correspondent Lionel Shapiro's first novel, was purchased by Paramount as a first draft manuscript. The novel became a best-seller after it was pubished by Doubleday in October 1947. According to an article by Virginia Wright in Los Angeles Daily News, producer Robert Fellows obtained more than 1,000 photographs of war crimes trials in Germany as source material for the film.
       A pre-production news item in the Los Angeles Times announced Corinne Calvet as the picture's lead, but she was later replaced by Czech-born European star Florence Marly, who made her American screen debut in the film. Before shooting began, Paramount News announced that John Farrow would direct the picture, Howard DaSilva would appear as "Kinsella," and DeForest Kelley would appear as "Lieutenant Parker," but none of these men worked on the final film. Jeanne Deifel, a former "Miss Chicago," who changed her name to Carol Mathews also made her debut in the film. According Virginia Wright's article in the Los Angeles Daily News, exterior scenes were shot on location in Strasbourg, France.