Kurt Katch and Henry Daniell in "Watch on the Rhine" (1943)

Watch on the Rhine (1943) Directed by Herman Shumlin. Screenplay by Dashiell Hammett from the play by Lillian Hellman. Kurt Katch as Herr Blecher and Henry Daniell as Baron Phili von Ramme

Von Ramme: It is generally supposed, Mr. Chandler, that these little talks of Blecher’s are most instructive… and unpleasant.
Blecher: Baron von Ramme, too much may be generally supposed.
Von Ramme: A threat, Butcher Boy?
Blecher: “Butcher Boy.” That is funny, yes. We Nazis are always funny. And we have a funny leader with a funny mustache. His name used to be Schicklgruber and he was a paperhanger. That too is funny, yes. And so we have divided the world into two parts: those like you who want to work for us or with us, and those others who lie awake trembling and hating us because they are afraid of us. Tell me, is not that also funny? No, I wouldn’t threaten you, Phili.  You could not be handled that way.
Von Ramme: With all your other duties, you still had time to make a study of me.
Blecher: You’re not complicated.
Von Ramme: No?
Blecher: No. Aristocrat. Bred to government service. Contemptuous of us and our methods, but chiefly because we are not gentlemen. Would be satisfied enough doing the same things, or worse, under some stupid Hohenzollern. You are too cynical to be really dangerous, Baron von Ramme.
Von Ramme: Bravo. You make me ashamed of being so simple.

3 Responses to “Watch on the Rhine (1943)”

  1. Well, Mr. Kennedy, it is quite clear to me today that your series of movie quotes over past week are being devoted to the Best Picture nominees of 1943. I have no serious problems with WATCH ON THE RHINE, which surprisingly won the New York Film Critics Award for top movie that year, but it’s now a bit dated and less compelling than it was at one point. To give the film the top prize over CASABLANCA and THE OX-BOW INCIDENT is the height of absurdity. Heck for me it’s not better than THE MORE THE MERRIER, THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, THE HUMAN COMEDY nor HEAVEN CAN WAIT.

    Love Blecher’s lines there about Hitler!

  2. In any case, while the NY critics missed the boat that year, the Oscars at least called it right with CASABLANCA.

    Incidentally, Paul Lukas was very good in WATCH, though his Oscar should have gone to Humphrey Bogart.

  3. I thought Hammett/Hellman’s screenplay was pretty sharp. Did they have a best adapted award that year? But top billed Bette Davis felt sort of tacked on. Story goes that she didn’t want top billing because it was a relatively small part, even expanded from that of the play, but of course her name sells tickets. As far as war time propoganda goes, it doesn’t sparkle as much as Casablanca nor does it transcend its war time roots, but it’s a good watch anyway. This was actually the first time I’d seen it. It’s not every day you get to enjoy a “new” Bette Davis flick.

    And yes, you’re right. I just ran down all 10 best picture nominees from Oscar Year 1944. We were originally going to do a podcast on ’44 so I did my homework. Alas, we did the year of Patton instead.

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