Cast & Crew
J. Edward Bromberg
After the United States Office of Strategic Services learns that Germany is receiving large shipments of pitchblende, material that is needed for the development of nuclear power, Colonel Walsh recruits his old friend, nuclear physicist Alvah Jesper, to work with the O.S.S. Alvah is asked to travel to Switzerland, where he will contact Austrian scientist Dr. Katerin Loder, who has escaped from Germany, and discover what she knows about Germany's efforts to build an atomic bomb. Using the name Andrew Wilson, Alvah meets with Katerin at a hospital. When she discloses that the Germans have threatened to kill several anti-Nazis every day that she remains in Switzerland, Alvah suggests that she return to Germany and spy for the Americans. Before arrangements can be made, however, Katerin is kidnapped. In order to get her back, Alvah frames a German operative named Ann Dawson, who is staying at his hotel, and forces her to reveal where Katerin has been taken. After Katerin is killed during the subsequent rescue attempt, Alvah proposes that he try to contact Giovanni Polda, the Italian scientist with whom Katerin was working. Alvah is smuggled into Italy by several members of the underground, including Pinkie, Marsoli and an attractive woman named Gina. Posing as a German scientist, Alvah contacts Polda, who explains that although he would like to help Alvah, the fascists are holding his daughter Maria hostage. Alvah then offers to get both Maria and Polda out of the country. While Alvah waits for the Italians to rescue Maria, he hides out at Gina's. After Alvah is seen in her room, however, he and Gina are forced to move several times. Soon, the two of them fall in love. When they are notified that Maria is safe, they set out to bring Polda to the rendezvous. During the pick up, Alvah is forced to kill the security guard who has been assigned to Polda. After a long drive, Gina, Alvah and Polda arrive at the rendezvous, where Polda reveals that the woman claiming to be Maria is not his daughter. From the woman, Polda learns that Maria died six months earlier, and that now the fascists, who have followed her to the hideout, have surrounded the house. During the ensuing gunfight, Pinkie orders Gina to take Alvah and Polda out through the cellar while the others stay behind to draw the soldiers' fire. Supporting the ailing Polda between them, Alvah and Gina make their way across the fields to the waiting airplane. Alvah asks Gina to come with them, but she refuses, believing that her work in the Italian resistance is too important. Alvah then promises to return for her after the war is over.
J. Edward Bromberg
Hans Von Morhart
Edwin B. Dupar
Leo F. Forbstein
Ring Lardner Jr.
Francis J. Scheid
Richard L. Wilson
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948).
Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951).
After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963).
It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction.
Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).
In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina.
by Michael T. Toole
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
Anti-atomic bomb dialogue was removed before release.
The book by Corey Ford and Alastair MacBain appeared serially in Collier's from 6 October-October 27, 1945. This film was the first production of United States Pictures, Inc., formed by Joseph Bernhard and Milton Sperling. The picture also marked actress Lilli Palmer's American film debut. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Major General William J. Donovan, director of the O.S.S., wanted his close friend James Cagney to star, but Cagney turned down the role. The air strip and bomber sequence scenes were shot on location at the Providencia Ranch in Universal City, CA, while other scenes were shot in Bronson Canyon, Los Angeles. The production shut down for a week in June 1946 when Gary Cooper became ill with the flu.
A studio press release noted that technical advisor Michael Burke was a lieutenant in the U.S. naval reserve and had worked with the French Maquis. He was awarded the Silver Star for service in Italy in 1942. Technical advisor Andreis Deinum was a cryptographer for the O.S.S. According to modern sources, the film originally had a final reel in which "Polda" has a heart attack aboard the airplane and dies. Working with a clue obtained from a photograph in Polda's wallet, the O.S.S. discover the former site of an atomic power plant in Germany. Following this discovery, "Alvah" warns, "God help us Americans if we think we can keep atomic power for ourselves alone." Modern sources add that the message of this ending was the reason Lang made the film. Palmer reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on May 3, 1948, co-starring Ronald Reagan.