They Came to Blow Up America (1943)

73 mins | Drama | 7 May 1943

Director:

Edward Ludwig

Writer:

Aubrey Wisberg

Producer:

Lee Marcus

Cinematographer:

Lucien Andriot

Editor:

Nick DeMaggio

Production Designers:

James Basevi, John Ewing

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

Working titles for this film were School for Sabotage and School for Saboteurs . Although information contained in the Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Art--Special Collections Library notes that Ben Ray Redman co-authored a 3 Aug 1942 draft of the screenplay with Michel Jacoby, Redman's contribution to the released film has not been determined. Contemporary HR news items note that Bryan Foy was originally set to produce the film, and that the Sheriff's Camp for Boys in Calabasas, CA, and the industrial sector of Compton, CA were selected as sites for location ... More Less

Working titles for this film were School for Sabotage and School for Saboteurs . Although information contained in the Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Art--Special Collections Library notes that Ben Ray Redman co-authored a 3 Aug 1942 draft of the screenplay with Michel Jacoby, Redman's contribution to the released film has not been determined. Contemporary HR news items note that Bryan Foy was originally set to produce the film, and that the Sheriff's Camp for Boys in Calabasas, CA, and the industrial sector of Compton, CA were selected as sites for location shooting. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
May 43
p. 184.
Box Office
1 May 1943.
---
Daily Variety
21 Apr 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Apr 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 43
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Apr 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Feb 43
p. 1162.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 43
p. 1273.
New York Times
15 May 43
p. 13.
Variety
21 Apr 43
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Vice President in Charge of Studio Operations
Prod
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
School for Saboteurs
School for Sabotage
Release Date:
7 May 1943
Production Date:
5 December 1942--late December 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 May 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12416
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73
Length(in feet):
6,586
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9036
SYNOPSIS

Carl Steelman, a German-American attorney for a mining company, is implicated in a German sabotage operation when he and seven other men are arrested shortly after arriving in a German U-Boat on the shores of New York. Following the trial of the saboteurs, Chief Craig of the F. B. I. answers a question posed by one of his men about Carl's involvement in the group by telling the story of Carl's first exposure to the German-American Bund: Despite his parents' protests, Carl, a youth, attends Bund meetings and gets into trouble with the law. Unknown to his family and the Nazi Bund leaders, however, Carl is an American agent on a top secret mission to infiltrate the higher echelons of the Nazi organization and investigate their training school for saboteurs. As part of the government's investigation of the school, Carl is given a passport belonging to a German enlisted man, Ernst Reiker, whose identity he is to assume, and is sent to Hamburg, Germany. There, Carl befriends Helga Lorenz, a Nazi operative who is suspected by the Germans of being a double agent. Given orders by the Nazis to determine Helga's loyalties, Carl soon discovers for himself that she is a double agent when he finds fake candles containing anti-Nazi propaganda in her home. Confident that Helga can be trusted, Carl confesses that he has been sent by the Nazis to spy on her and suggests that she flee before they send her to a concentration camp. Before Carl can dispose of the candles, however, Nazi agents confiscate them and Helga is immediately captured. During Helga's interrogation, she confesses to being a double agent ... +


Carl Steelman, a German-American attorney for a mining company, is implicated in a German sabotage operation when he and seven other men are arrested shortly after arriving in a German U-Boat on the shores of New York. Following the trial of the saboteurs, Chief Craig of the F. B. I. answers a question posed by one of his men about Carl's involvement in the group by telling the story of Carl's first exposure to the German-American Bund: Despite his parents' protests, Carl, a youth, attends Bund meetings and gets into trouble with the law. Unknown to his family and the Nazi Bund leaders, however, Carl is an American agent on a top secret mission to infiltrate the higher echelons of the Nazi organization and investigate their training school for saboteurs. As part of the government's investigation of the school, Carl is given a passport belonging to a German enlisted man, Ernst Reiker, whose identity he is to assume, and is sent to Hamburg, Germany. There, Carl befriends Helga Lorenz, a Nazi operative who is suspected by the Germans of being a double agent. Given orders by the Nazis to determine Helga's loyalties, Carl soon discovers for himself that she is a double agent when he finds fake candles containing anti-Nazi propaganda in her home. Confident that Helga can be trusted, Carl confesses that he has been sent by the Nazis to spy on her and suggests that she flee before they send her to a concentration camp. Before Carl can dispose of the candles, however, Nazi agents confiscate them and Helga is immediately captured. During Helga's interrogation, she confesses to being a double agent and is ordered to do time in a detention camp. Carl cleverly saves Helga, though, by using his skills as a saboteur to sabotage the vehicle in which she is being transported. Carl then takes Helga to a boat that is waiting for them on a river and sends her to a safer place. Meanwhile, Frau Reiker, the wife of the real Reiker, causes trouble for Carl and his mission when she decides to pay a surprise visit to her husband and finds Carl in his hotel room. Though confused and angry, Frau Reiker consents to Carl's request that she give him twenty-four hours to find out what happened to her husband. Having stalled Frau Reiker, Carl rushes to his German commander, Colonel Taeger, and tells him that his wife has gone mad and that she is convinced that he is an impostor. Arguing that her delusion poses a security threat, Carl persuades the colonel to have Frau Reiker sent to a sanitarium. Meanwhile, back in America, Carl's father Julius, who never completely recovered from the shock of his son's apparent involvement with the Bund, has become seriously ill. To save Julius, the F. B. I. sends an agent to the Steelmans, and after swearing him to an oath of absolute secrecy, the agent tells Julius that his son is on a top secret mission. Julius rejoices at the news and makes a speedy recovery, but is unable to contain his excitement and pride and tells his physician, Dr. Herman Baumer, about Carl. Baumer, a Nazi sympathizer, informs on Carl, and orders are placed in Germany to have the American arrested. Carl, however, has already left Germany, and is en route to America on his first mission of sabotage. Although it is now clear to Taeger that Frau Reiker was telling the truth about Carl, Taeger kills her in her jail cell because she might expose his mistake if she is released. When the submarine on which Carl is traveling comes under attack from U.S. war planes, Carl escapes in a rubber raft and watches as the submarine explodes. After landing on American soil, Carl is arrested along with eight other saboteurs, but he is soon released when his identity is learned. Six of the eight saboteurs are tried and executed, and Dr. Baumer is exposed as a Nazi agent and is arrested. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.