Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET (1945 ). Director: Henry Hathaway.

When American William Dietrich (William Eythe) is contacted by German agents who want to train him for espionage in the pre-WW2 period, he notifies the FBI and agrees to become a double agent for them. Gradually he infiltrates a German spy ring that is trying to get atom bomb secrets or the like. Concurrently the US enters the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor. What transpires is presented in documentary fashion -- there are even real shots of actual spies taken during the period -- as this is a fact-based story. FBI agents even play bit parts throughout the movie. Lloyd Nolan plays agent George Briggs, whom Dietrich reports to, and Leo G. Carroll is Colonel Hammersohn, a higher-up in the spy network, which also employs Elsa Gebhardt (Signe Hasso). Years later Carroll gave orders to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Hasso mostly did television work. Which is appropriate since The House on 92nd Street is like a long television episode. The only lively scene has the Nazi gals slapping around Dietrich when he refuses to talk.

Verdict: Truth isn't always more interesting than fiction. **.

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