The Searching Wind


1h 48m 1946

Brief Synopsis

Always the diplomat, Alex Hazen is slow to take sides in Europe of the 1920s and 1930s. Cassie Bowwman wants him to be more decisive and leaves him in Rome just as Mussolini is coming to power. There Alex marries Emily, daughter of a newspaper publisher who hires Cassie for his Paris bureau -- just before retiring form active management of his paper. Alex and Emily's son Sam, recently returned from active duty in World War II, learns the whole story one night in Washington when Emily invites Cassie to dinner. Sam has a story to tell, too.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 9, 1946
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Jun 1946; Los Angeles opening: 1 Aug 1946
Production Company
Hal Wallis Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Searching Wind by Lillian Hellman, as originally produced and directed by Herman Shumlin (New York, 12 Apr 1944).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

In 1945, in Washington, D.C., United States Ambassador Alex Hazen retires after a career fraught with mistakes. Alex and his wife Emily, whose daughter Sarah is away at school, also have a son named Sam, who suffered a leg wound in the war and has come home disillusioned. The Hazens live with Emily's father Moses, who used to be an idealistic newspaperman, but sold his newspaper out of disgust at the rise of dictatorships in Europe. One night in April, Alex confesses to Emily that he is leaving her for their mutual childhood friend, Cassie Bowman, a journalist, who recently returned to Washington. Emily agrees to a divorce, but invites Cassie to dinner, ostensibly to clear up past misunderstandings. During dinner, they hear a radio news flash announcing Benito Mussolini's death by Italian patriots in Milan. When Alex celebrates the news, Cassie reminds him that twenty-three years earlier, as a diplomat in Rome, he did not view Mussolini as an enemy to Democracy. All but Sam then remember being in Rome on October 27, 1922, when Mussolini and his black-shirted "Fascisti" marched on the capital: Cassie and Moses adamantly oppose the Fascist dictatorship. Alex, a young diplomat, believes Italy is merely engaged in a civil war, while Emily is interested only in maintaining diplomatic decorum with those who have risen to power. Alex, who is in love with Cassie, begs her to stay in Rome and marry him, but she refuses because of their political differences. Moses, disillusioned by the state of world affairs, sells his newspaper after giving Cassie a post in Paris. A year later, Alex is reassigned to Berlin, and he and Emily marry, although they both admit they are not passionately in love. In 1928, Cassie is sent to Berlin to research the National Socialist party, which is gaining power, and reports on the inhumane treatment of Jews there. After her visa is mysteriously canceled, she visits Alex at the embassy, and he naïvely insists that the Nazis will never amass any real power. In Berlin, Emily and Alex, who have since had Sam, hope to be reunited with Cassie, but she tells Emily that she does not that believe Emily and Alex were ever really in love, and asks not to see them again until they can speak honestly about the past. In the following years, Hitler gains power, and on 30 January 1933, he is made chancellor of Germany. Cassie and Alex do not see each other again until 1936, when on 12 November, during the Spanish Civil War, they have a chance meeting in a Madrid café as it is being bombed. Although Alex is still married to Emily, who has since had a daughter, he swears his love to Cassie, and they kiss. Before they part, Cassie again makes an unsuccessful attempt to convince Alex that America's policy of nonintervention is aiding the ruin of Europe. Then, in March 1938, Germany annexes Austria in the Anschluss . Only after Hitler orders the German occupation of the Sudetenland, in southern Czechoslovakia, is Alex, now stationed in Paris, finally forced to take a stand on appeasement. As he prepares a report for the State Department, Emily pleads with Alex to avoid war for the sake of Sam. Alex recommends appeasement, and on 29 September 1938, the Munich Agreement is signed. Back in the present, Cassie tells Alex that they will never marry because his personality is more suited to Emily's. Later Sam accuses his father of appeasement in both his personal and professional lives, and blames Moses, his parents and their generation for sending innocent millions to war. Finally, Sam offers his leg, which is to be amputated, to the cause of democracy.

Cast

Robert Young

Alex Hazen

Sylvia Sidney

Cassie Bowman

Ann Richards

Emily Hazen

Dudley Digges

Moses

Albert Basserman

Count Von Stammer

Dan Seymour

Torrone

Ian Wolfe

Sears

Marietta Canty

Sophronia

Norma Varden

Mrs. Hayworth

Charles D. Brown

Carter

Don Castle

David

William Trenk

Ponette

Mickey Kuhn

Sam, as a boy

Ann Carter

Sarah Hazan

Dave Willock

Male attendant at hospital

Douglas Dick

Sam [Hazen]

Fred Gierman

Eppler

Henry Rowland

Captain Heyderbreck

Arthur Loft

Doctor Crocker

Pietro Sosso

Pianist

Armand Cortes

Violinist

Neyle Morrow

Young Italian waiter

Albert Pollet

French waiter

Fred Nurney

German speaker

Hans Von Morhart

German guard

Arno Frey

German guard

Joe Whitehead

Old man in embassy

Frank Ferguson

Embassy attendant

John Mylong

Hotel manager

Eva Heyde

Woman customer

Jon Gilbreath

German gangster

Otto Reichow

German gangster

William Yetter Jr.

German gangster

Daniel De Jonghe

Jewish waiter

Adolph Freeman

Jewish waiter

Bert Moorhouse

Customer

Albert Ferris

German officer

Robert Strong

Chauffeur

Al Winters

German agent

Hans Moebus

German agent

Hilda Tanzler

German governess

John Dehner

American reporter in Paris

Eugene Borden

French reporter

Maurice Marsac

French reporter

Reginald Sheffield

Prissy little man

Mary K. Wells

Girl reporter in Madrid

James Millican

Reporter in Madrid

Kenneth Patterson

Reporter in Madrid

Harry Semels

Waiter in Madrid

Tony Paton

Chauffeur in Madrid

Julio Bonini

Spanish official

Elmer Serrano

Spanish major

Georges Renevant

Monsieur de Frontigny

Leo Mostovoy

Polish general

Marie Surdez

Countess Marigny

Marcel De La Brosse

Butler in Paris

Jack Mulhall

Reporter

Frank Arnold

Reporter

Will Thunis

French gate attendant

Louis Ludwig Lowy

French bartender

Tom Chatterton

Joe, chauffeur

James Carlisle

Wedgewood Nowell

Alex Novinsky

Stella Le Saint

Albin Robeling

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 9, 1946
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Jun 1946; Los Angeles opening: 1 Aug 1946
Production Company
Hal Wallis Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Searching Wind by Lillian Hellman, as originally produced and directed by Herman Shumlin (New York, 12 Apr 1944).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In a written foreword, the film quotes the speech made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's at the Yalta Conference on 1 March, 1945: "Twenty-five years ago, American fighting men looked to the statesmen of the world to finish the work of peace for which they fought and suffered. We failed them then. We cannot fail them again, and expect the world again to survive." Dates of historical events were not mentioned in the film, although, as reported in Paramount News, an exact timetable of the events leading up to World War II was used on the set to enhance the "time consciousness" of the actors. Specific historical dates were added to clarify the above plot summary.
       One day before production began, Hollywood Reporter listed screenwriter Peter Berneis as a dialogue contributor for the film; however, his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed by any other source. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Joan Crawford was considered for a starring role in the picture, and Leslie Venable, Mae Busch and Michael Strong were tested for roles, but did not appear in the final film. Paramount News lists Bill Meader in the cast as a reporter, but his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Dudley Digges, who portrays "Moses" in the film, first played the part on Broadway. The film marked the screen debut of Douglas Dirk, and Robert Young's seventy-fifth feature. Director William Dieterle was borrowed from David O. Selznick's company, and actress Sylvia Sidney was borrowed from Cagney Productions. As reported in Paramount News, Viennese actor William Trenk, who plays "Ponette" in the film, was a popular comedian of the European stage, screen and radio before the war, and became a propagandist for the Austrian underground resistance movement. Before coming to the U.S., Trenk was imprisoned four times for lampooning Adolf Hitler. While in the United States, Trenk reportedly continued to send anti-Nazi broadcasts via short-wave radio to Germany and occupied Europe.
       Several reviews note that film changed the occupation of the stage character "Cassie" from a schoolteacher to a journalist. According to memos in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, early versions of the script included a consummated love affair between "Alex" and "Cassie" before his marriage to "Emily," as well as an adulterous affair later. Due to pressure from the PCA, no indication of a sexual relationship between Alex and Cassie was in the released film, although they are shown trying to come up with a plausible alibi for arriving late to concert in Rome after going for a drive alone. As reported in Paramount News, background shots in the film were selected from the film records of historic events that preceded World War II, including footage from captured Italian and German newsreels. Paramount News also commented on the use of cork, which had been scarce during the war, to act as noiseless gravel on the driveway set. The Variety review of the film states: "The spirit of appeasement, of laissez faire, is strong in the U.S. again. The lessons of the first and second World Wars are apparently forgotten. By recalling the mistakes agreed on, by calling attention...to President Roosevelt's words...[the] film May wake the U.S. up through it's message." The New York Times review stated, however, that "no pompous and short-visioned statesmen are likely to be blown over by [the film's] gentle blast." In an article in the Saturday Evening Post entitled "The Role I Liked Best...," Sylvia Sidney states that her character, "Cassie," "in an intensified way, mirrored [her] own feelings about Europe's prewar problems." Sidney's participation in the film made her feel that she was "doing something to bolster the general argument against appeasement."