“My mother — what’s she got to do with death? She’s life!”
The son (Robert Taylor) of a famous actress (Nazimova) who has gone missing after selling her late husband’s estate in Germany attempts to track her down, but finds all citizens fearful and evasive about her fate in a concentration camp. Will Taylor be able to count on either the support of an American-born, widowed countess-turned-headmistress (Norma Shearer) whose lover (Conrad Veidt) is a general in the Nazi army, or a kind-hearted doctor (Philip Dorn) with a lifelong admiration for Nazimova?
This early anti-Nazi film by MGM Studios was banned by Hitler — no surprise, given that it pulls absolutely no punches about the dangers of Germany’s totalitarian government, which is shown as willing to mercilessly execute a beloved actress for attempting to legitimately take her own money out of the country. Shearer’s character feels a bit too deliberately crafted as a beautiful American with torn loyalties, but Dutch-born Dorn (who fled Nazi-occupied Europe to continue his career) is excellent as a doctor who shows increasing bravery over the course of the story. We’re kept on our toes about how things will work out, and a very real air of death looms over the entire affair, making it a worthy entry in early cinematic outings about the Nazi threat to humanity.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Philip Dorn as Dr. Ditten
- Robert Planck’s cinematography
No, but it’s worth seeking out by fans of films from this unique era.