Lancer Spy (1937)

84 mins | Adventure | 8 October 1937

Director:

Gregory Ratoff

Writer:

Philip Dunne

Cinematographer:

Barney McGill

Editor:

Louis Loeffler

Production Designer:

Albert Hogsett

Production Company:

Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Life of a Lancer Spy . It was copyrighted under the title The Lancer Spy . According to a LAEx news item, the novel was purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox when it was in galley proofs. LAEx states that the author, Marthe McKenna, was a Belgian spy for the Allies during the war, and that the tentative cast included Gregory Ratoff, who subsequently directed the film, as the head man behind German lines, Michael Whalen, J. Edward Bromberg and Frances Drake. In an undated manuscript in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, McKenna calls this book a "sequel to My Master Spy ." This was Ratoff's first film as a director. According to MPH , Ratoff also assisted in writing and adapting the story. At the end of the film a title card reads "This picture has introduced to you a new Twentieth Century-Fox screen personality. Mr. George Sanders." Sanders had appeared in minor roles in other films before this. According to a HR news item, Darryl Zanuck signed French stage and screen actress Germaine Aussey to a term contract in Feb 1937. A 25 Mar 1937 HR news item noted that Aussey would likely debut in Lancer Spy . She is listed for the role of "Fraulein Daria Sunnel" in the first draft continuity, dated 16 Apr 1937, in the Produced Scripts Collection, and her name appears in the HR production charts until 7 Jun, when Dolores Del Rio's name replaces hers. It is likely that ... More Less

The working title of this film was Life of a Lancer Spy . It was copyrighted under the title The Lancer Spy . According to a LAEx news item, the novel was purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox when it was in galley proofs. LAEx states that the author, Marthe McKenna, was a Belgian spy for the Allies during the war, and that the tentative cast included Gregory Ratoff, who subsequently directed the film, as the head man behind German lines, Michael Whalen, J. Edward Bromberg and Frances Drake. In an undated manuscript in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, McKenna calls this book a "sequel to My Master Spy ." This was Ratoff's first film as a director. According to MPH , Ratoff also assisted in writing and adapting the story. At the end of the film a title card reads "This picture has introduced to you a new Twentieth Century-Fox screen personality. Mr. George Sanders." Sanders had appeared in minor roles in other films before this. According to a HR news item, Darryl Zanuck signed French stage and screen actress Germaine Aussey to a term contract in Feb 1937. A 25 Mar 1937 HR news item noted that Aussey would likely debut in Lancer Spy . She is listed for the role of "Fraulein Daria Sunnel" in the first draft continuity, dated 16 Apr 1937, in the Produced Scripts Collection, and her name appears in the HR production charts until 7 Jun, when Dolores Del Rio's name replaces hers. It is likely that Aussey was replaced by Del Rio during the shooting. According to modern sources, Aussey did not appear in any American films. According to the first draft continuity, John Bleifer was cast as a Swiss spy, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at UCLA, Colin Clive was originally cast in the role of a colonel, but after a couple of days of work, he had to leave because of illness. Also, according to the legal records, Leonid Kinskey was verbally engaged for a role for which he was instructed to have his hair cut. According to the first draft continuity, Kinskey's role was to be "Mueller, the batman." When Fritz Feld was later cast in that role, Kinskey was paid $500, one week's salary, because he went ahead and had his hair cut for the role. According to a LAT news item, Joseph Schildkraut received a long-term contract with the studio as the result of this film. The film was previewed in Los Angeles on 29 Sep 1937 when it was 78 minutes, according to DV . A MPH review of the preview lists Yvonne Severn rather than Joan Carol as "Elizabeth Bruce." According to this review, at the end of the film, Gruning identifies himself as a French spy, and Bruce escapes by disguising himself as Von Meinhardi. He then returns to his wife and daughter,and he is commended by the government. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Oct 1937.
---
Daily Variety
30 Sep 37
p. 3
Film Daily
5 Oct 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 37
p. 10, 15
Los Angeles Examiner
19 Mar 1937.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Jun 1937.
---
Motion Picture Daily
30 Sep 37
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Jul 37
p. 70.
Motion Picture Herald
9 Oct 37
, 13797
New York Times
4 Nov 37
p. 29.
Variety
6 Oct 37
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward man
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus comp
Mus comp
Mus orch and arr
Mus orch and arr
Mus orch and arr
Mus orch and arr
SOUND
Asst sd
Mic boom man
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Props
Cable man
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Lancer Spy by Marthe McKenna (London, 1937).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Life of a Lancer Spy
Release Date:
8 October 1937
Production Date:
10 May--late June 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
8 October 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7567
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in feet):
7,600
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3440
SYNOPSIS

On a plane leaving London, Colonel Fenwick tells his daughter the story of a man on the plane who once meant more to England than anyone else alive. The colonel explains that in 1917, when deadlocked battle fronts forced each side to turn to espionage, British Naval Officer Lieutenant Michael Bruce, was called upon to impersonate Baron Kurt Von Rohbach, a captured German officer of the famed Imperial Lancer Guards. After Bruce says goodbye to his wife and daughter, who thereafter believe him to be lost at sea, Colonel Fenwick of British Intelligence arranges for Bruce, as Von Rohbach, to escape. In Berlin, German General Von Meinhardi gives Bruce a hero's welcome to boost morale. German intelligence officer Lieut. Col. Gottfried Hollen and Major Sigfried Gruning suspect that Bruce is an impostor and, eager to discredit Von Meinhardi, send dancer Dolores Daria to seduce him. Bruce subsequently duels over Dolores, and after Dolores reports that she has learned nothing, Hollen sets a trap by telling Bruce of a spy planted in the British Admiralty. Knowing that Bruce is not the baron, Dolores, who has nevertheless fallen in love with him, warns him that informing the British about the spy will give Hollen proof of Bruce's espionage. After Gruning shows Hollen a newspaper photograph and article reporting that Bruce has been lost at sea, Hollen arranges for Bruce's home in Norfolk to be robbed. With samples of Bruce's handwriting, Hollen tries to inform Von Meinhardi, but the general, after a meal with Dolores and Bruce, has a heart attack. Bruce, with Von Meinhardi's keys, locates the West Front battle plans and, with the ... +


On a plane leaving London, Colonel Fenwick tells his daughter the story of a man on the plane who once meant more to England than anyone else alive. The colonel explains that in 1917, when deadlocked battle fronts forced each side to turn to espionage, British Naval Officer Lieutenant Michael Bruce, was called upon to impersonate Baron Kurt Von Rohbach, a captured German officer of the famed Imperial Lancer Guards. After Bruce says goodbye to his wife and daughter, who thereafter believe him to be lost at sea, Colonel Fenwick of British Intelligence arranges for Bruce, as Von Rohbach, to escape. In Berlin, German General Von Meinhardi gives Bruce a hero's welcome to boost morale. German intelligence officer Lieut. Col. Gottfried Hollen and Major Sigfried Gruning suspect that Bruce is an impostor and, eager to discredit Von Meinhardi, send dancer Dolores Daria to seduce him. Bruce subsequently duels over Dolores, and after Dolores reports that she has learned nothing, Hollen sets a trap by telling Bruce of a spy planted in the British Admiralty. Knowing that Bruce is not the baron, Dolores, who has nevertheless fallen in love with him, warns him that informing the British about the spy will give Hollen proof of Bruce's espionage. After Gruning shows Hollen a newspaper photograph and article reporting that Bruce has been lost at sea, Hollen arranges for Bruce's home in Norfolk to be robbed. With samples of Bruce's handwriting, Hollen tries to inform Von Meinhardi, but the general, after a meal with Dolores and Bruce, has a heart attack. Bruce, with Von Meinhardi's keys, locates the West Front battle plans and, with the help of Dolores and a tailor working for the British, escapes as a train porter to Switzerland. Colonel Fenwick finishes his story about Bruce by telling his daughter that the plans became the greatest factor in England's victory, and he surmises that Bruce is traveling to Berlin to pay an annual visit to the grave of Dolores, who was executed. +

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

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