Hostages (1943)

88 mins | Drama | 1943

Director:

Frank Tuttle

Cinematographer:

Victor Milner

Editor:

Archie Marshek

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Franz Bachelin

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

HR news items reported the following about the production: Actor Erich von Stroheim was initially cast as "Rheinhardt," but withdrew from the film due to a prior commitment to Paramount's film Five Graves to Cairo (see above). Technical advisor Alexander Hackenschmid, a Czechoslovakian director and cameraman, was a war refugee at the time this film was made. Footage of Prague, shot six years earlier for Paramount's film Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.00405), was used for background shots in the film. Reviews of Hostages were generally unfavorable, as the NYT noted that "Paramount's collaborators have allowed the fine irony of an interesting idea to sift through their fingers. What remains is no more than a conventional film about the underground movement." The LAEx review stated: " Hostages ...is nothing less than plain Communism masquerading under the guise of Czech patriotism....We would review the book in its native Czech--only we do not know the Czech word for ... More Less

HR news items reported the following about the production: Actor Erich von Stroheim was initially cast as "Rheinhardt," but withdrew from the film due to a prior commitment to Paramount's film Five Graves to Cairo (see above). Technical advisor Alexander Hackenschmid, a Czechoslovakian director and cameraman, was a war refugee at the time this film was made. Footage of Prague, shot six years earlier for Paramount's film Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.00405), was used for background shots in the film. Reviews of Hostages were generally unfavorable, as the NYT noted that "Paramount's collaborators have allowed the fine irony of an interesting idea to sift through their fingers. What remains is no more than a conventional film about the underground movement." The LAEx review stated: " Hostages ...is nothing less than plain Communism masquerading under the guise of Czech patriotism....We would review the book in its native Czech--only we do not know the Czech word for HOOEY." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Aug 1943.
---
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1943.
---
Daily Variety
11 Aug 43
p. 3, 6
Film Daily
12 Aug 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 43
p. 7.
Los Angeles Examiner
17 Dec 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald
14 Aug 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 43
p. 1277.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Aug 43
p. 1481.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Oct 43
p. 1579.
New York Times
11 Oct 43
p. 23.
Variety
11 Aug 43
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Louis Donath
Hans von Morhart
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Hostages by Stefan Heym (New York, 1942).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 11 October 1943
Production Date:
8 February--late March 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 August 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12355
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
88
Length(in feet):
7,971
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9188
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

At a small wharfside restaurant in Nazi-occupied Prague, the washroom attendant, Janoshik, receives a message hidden inside his sandwich. When a drunken Nazi lieutenant named Glasenapp then goes to the washroom, Janoshik attends him, unaware that the lovesick German is going to commit suicide. After Janoshik is summoned upstairs to tend the bar, Glasenapp's friends suddenly realize that he has disappeared. Glasenapp's body is found and the Czech restaurant staff and patrons are all arrested for his murder. When patron Otto Preissinger, a Nazi collaborator and the powerful director of the Bohemian/Moravian Coal Syndicate, protests that a man in his position should not be included among the prisoners, Sergeant Schuler treats him roughly and shoves him back in line. Fortunately for Preissinger, his daughter Milada and her fiancé, Jan Pavel, left the restaurant before the incident. Gestapo Commissioner Richard Rheinhardt is appalled when the coroner determines that Glasenapp was not murdered, but committed suicide, as Preissinger is a friend of Hermann Göring. However, Protektor Kurt Daluege, the highest German authority in Prague, turns the situation to their advantage by making a secret agreement with Rheinhardt to change the coroner's finding to murder, and kill the prisoners so that they can take control of Preissinger's valuable operation. The cellmates become alarmed when Schuler brings them a newspaper report which announces that they will be executed in seventy-two hours unless the murderer is apprehended. When Rheinhardt refuses to see Milada and Jan, the publisher of Prague's major newspaper introduces them to Paul Breda, a Czech hired by the Nazis as a translator and censor, but Paul agrees to help them only after Milada promises to pay him handsomely. Rheinhardt ... +


At a small wharfside restaurant in Nazi-occupied Prague, the washroom attendant, Janoshik, receives a message hidden inside his sandwich. When a drunken Nazi lieutenant named Glasenapp then goes to the washroom, Janoshik attends him, unaware that the lovesick German is going to commit suicide. After Janoshik is summoned upstairs to tend the bar, Glasenapp's friends suddenly realize that he has disappeared. Glasenapp's body is found and the Czech restaurant staff and patrons are all arrested for his murder. When patron Otto Preissinger, a Nazi collaborator and the powerful director of the Bohemian/Moravian Coal Syndicate, protests that a man in his position should not be included among the prisoners, Sergeant Schuler treats him roughly and shoves him back in line. Fortunately for Preissinger, his daughter Milada and her fiancé, Jan Pavel, left the restaurant before the incident. Gestapo Commissioner Richard Rheinhardt is appalled when the coroner determines that Glasenapp was not murdered, but committed suicide, as Preissinger is a friend of Hermann Göring. However, Protektor Kurt Daluege, the highest German authority in Prague, turns the situation to their advantage by making a secret agreement with Rheinhardt to change the coroner's finding to murder, and kill the prisoners so that they can take control of Preissinger's valuable operation. The cellmates become alarmed when Schuler brings them a newspaper report which announces that they will be executed in seventy-two hours unless the murderer is apprehended. When Rheinhardt refuses to see Milada and Jan, the publisher of Prague's major newspaper introduces them to Paul Breda, a Czech hired by the Nazis as a translator and censor, but Paul agrees to help them only after Milada promises to pay him handsomely. Rheinhardt is deaf to Milada's pleas, however, and secretly has her followed by agent Mueller. Unknown to the Gestapo, Paul is a member of the Czech underground, and Janoshik, whose real name is Karel Vokosch, is its current leader. As Janoshik is the only person in communication with the local longshoremen, his arrest has delayed the planned bombing of the Nazi munitions depot at the wharf. In order to free him, Janoshik's comrade Marie concludes that another underground member must give himself up for the murder so the hostages will be released. One man, Joseph, volunteers, but is killed by Nazis before he can turn himself in, so Paul takes his place. That night, Paul informs Milada and Jan that her father will be saved, and despite Jan's distrust, Milada agrees to meet him with the money in the restaurant. Paul and Milada are grabbed by Mueller, but the restaurant is filled with underground members, and Paul kills Mueller when Marie turns out the lights. Later that night, Milada joins the underground but is devastated to learn that Paul is giving his life for her father. In prison, meanwhile, Janoshik suddenly realizes that Glasenapp must have committed suicide, as he had left the man alone in the washroom, and that the Nazis are getting rid of them because of Preissinger. When Janoshik is overheard talking about Glasenapp's purported suicide letter, he is interrogated by Rheinhardt. Rheinhardt fails to see through Janoshik's pose as an ignorant country peasant, and has Schuler and his men take him to the restaurant to find the letter, which Janoshik claims he did not mail because of his arrest. Schuler brutally beats Janoshik, who goes into the washroom to be sick, and escapes out the window into the ocean. With Janoshik free, Paul does not turn himself in, and Jan believes that he has cheated Milada. However, Rheinhardt is shocked when he learns that Karol Vokosch slipped through his grasp, and unsuccessfully attempts to use Preissinger to manipulate Milada into revealing Paul's hiding place. On Janoshik's instructions, the underground distributes leaflets to the public informing them of Glasenapp's suicide and the fact that the prisoners will be executed so the Nazis can control Preissinger's fortune. Paul and Milada go to see Rheinhardt, who forestalls his plan to torture Paul so they can witness the executions of the prisoners. At that moment, innocent-looking fishermen, under the leadership of Janoshik, bomb the munitions depot. When he hears the explosion, Rheinhardt orders the soldiers to use machine guns on the prisoners. Paul and Milada are asked to leave the room when the Protektor comes in, after which Daluege reprimands Rheinhardt for bungling the entire episode. As no one else knows of their secret plan to take over Preissinger's company, Daluege shoots Rheinhardt and makes his death look like a suicide, then promotes Schuler. As he leaves the building, Daluege inquires about Paul and Milada's presence. Paul, thinking quickly, tells him that Rheinhardt wanted him to witness the executions for the newspaper, and Daluege instructs him to report that Rheinhardt has left Prague for a "well-deserved rest in the Fatherland." Stunned by their good fortune, Paul and Milada walk out of Gestapo headquarters. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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