The Seventh Cross (1944)

110-111 or 113 mins | Drama | September 1944

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writer:

Helen Deutsch

Producer:

Pandro S. Berman

Cinematographer:

Karl Freund

Editor:

Thomas Richards

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Leonid Vasian

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Voice-over narration spoken by Ray Collins as the spirit of character "Ernst Wallau" is heard intermittently throughout the film. Onscreen credits list Steven Geray's character name as "Dr. Loewenstein," although in the film itself his name is spelled "Lowenstein." According to reviews and director Fred Zinnemann's autobiography, Anna Seghers, on whose novel the film is based, was a German refugee who escaped from Nazi Germany to Mexico. HR news items provide the following information about the production: In Sep 1942, after a deal involving Twentieth Century-Fox fell through, the book was withdrawn from the film market. Director/producer Otto Preminger then purchased the rights to it, intending to produce it as a stage play. Viola Brothers Shore was hired to write the stage adaptation in collaboration with Seghers, but no information regarding a theatrical production of the book has been found. William Dieterle was first announced as the film's director.
       The Seventh Cross marked Zinnemann's first major directing assignment. Stage star Jessica Tandy made her American screen acting debut and Katherine Locke made her screen debut in the film. The Seventh Cross also marked the first time in which Tandy and real-life husband Hume Cronyn appeared together onscreen. HR announced in Nov 1943 that M-G-M was hoping to sign Pola Negri for a featured role, but she did not appear in the completed film. Some scenes were shot in orchards near Riverside, CA, according to HR . According to an Oct 1944 Life magazine article, M-G-M arranged an elaborate publicity contest for the picture in which a "wanted poster" featuring ... More Less

Voice-over narration spoken by Ray Collins as the spirit of character "Ernst Wallau" is heard intermittently throughout the film. Onscreen credits list Steven Geray's character name as "Dr. Loewenstein," although in the film itself his name is spelled "Lowenstein." According to reviews and director Fred Zinnemann's autobiography, Anna Seghers, on whose novel the film is based, was a German refugee who escaped from Nazi Germany to Mexico. HR news items provide the following information about the production: In Sep 1942, after a deal involving Twentieth Century-Fox fell through, the book was withdrawn from the film market. Director/producer Otto Preminger then purchased the rights to it, intending to produce it as a stage play. Viola Brothers Shore was hired to write the stage adaptation in collaboration with Seghers, but no information regarding a theatrical production of the book has been found. William Dieterle was first announced as the film's director.
       The Seventh Cross marked Zinnemann's first major directing assignment. Stage star Jessica Tandy made her American screen acting debut and Katherine Locke made her screen debut in the film. The Seventh Cross also marked the first time in which Tandy and real-life husband Hume Cronyn appeared together onscreen. HR announced in Nov 1943 that M-G-M was hoping to sign Pola Negri for a featured role, but she did not appear in the completed film. Some scenes were shot in orchards near Riverside, CA, according to HR . According to an Oct 1944 Life magazine article, M-G-M arranged an elaborate publicity contest for the picture in which a "wanted poster" featuring a photograph of Tracy's stand-in, Roy Thomas, was plastered around seven U.S. cities, including Boston and San Francisco, and a $500 war bond was offered to the first person in each city who spotted and reported Thomas. Thomas was spotted in all seven cities. According to Zinnemann's autobiography, Berthold Viertel helped cast the film. Zinnemann also noted that Robert Surtees took over as director of photography for a few days when Karl Freund became ill. Hume Cronyn received an Academy Award nomination in the Actor in a Supporting Role category. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Jul 1944.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jul 44
p. 4.
Film Daily
24 Jul 44
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 44
p. 46.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 44
p. 10.
Life
16 Oct 44
pp. 113-117.
Look
17 Oct 44
pp. 74-76.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Jan 44
p. 1715.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Jul 44
p. 2006.
New York Times
29 Sep 44
p. 18.
Variety
19 Jul 44
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Karen Verne
William Edmonds
Paul E. Burns
Giselle Werbiseck
Ghislaine Perreau
Hans Furberg
Bobby Blake
Capt. John Van Eyck
Hans von Morhart
Kurt Furberg
Will Kaufman
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
STAND INS
Spencer Tracy's stand-in
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers, translated from the German by James A. Galston (Boston, 1942).
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 September 1944
Production Date:
mid November 1943--8 March 1944
addl scenes began 4 May 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 July 1944
Copyright Number:
LP180
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110-111 or 113
Length(in feet):
10,057
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10084
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the fall of 1936, seven prisoners from a Westhofen, Germany, concentration camp escape into the night: wise Ernst Wallau; schoolteacher Pelzer; Bellani, a once-renowned acrobat; Aldinger, an old farmer; Jewish grocery clerk Beutler; Fuellgrabe, a novelist; and rugged George Heisler, the victim of repeated torture. Before separating, Wallau and Heisler make plans to meet in Mainz at the home of Wallau's friend Rudolf Schenck. Wallau is soon caught, however, and interrogated by the camp's commandant, Overkamp, but reveals nothing. After the badly beaten Wallau is affixed to a crudely made crucifix, Overkamp declares that the remaining six escapees will suffer the same fate. As Wallau dies, his spirit leaves his body and sees George, in whom he has great faith, making his way across a field. On his way to Mainz, George enters a farming village and cuts his hand on some glass shards that have been imbedded in the village walls. He then steals a coat out of a shed and is forced to hide in a wood pile after police storm the streets in search of him. The police instead find Pelzer, who quickly becomes Overkamp's second victim. Exhausted and hungry, George arrives in Mainz the next day and, unable to continue to Schenck's address on the other side of town, rests in a church. Elsewhere, Franz Marnet, an old friend of George, who until recently had been living in Berlin, meets with Leo Hermann, the leader of the local resistance movement. Aware of George's plight, Marnet solicits Leo's help in getting him money and a passport, but neither man knows how to contact the fugitive. George is sure ... +


In the fall of 1936, seven prisoners from a Westhofen, Germany, concentration camp escape into the night: wise Ernst Wallau; schoolteacher Pelzer; Bellani, a once-renowned acrobat; Aldinger, an old farmer; Jewish grocery clerk Beutler; Fuellgrabe, a novelist; and rugged George Heisler, the victim of repeated torture. Before separating, Wallau and Heisler make plans to meet in Mainz at the home of Wallau's friend Rudolf Schenck. Wallau is soon caught, however, and interrogated by the camp's commandant, Overkamp, but reveals nothing. After the badly beaten Wallau is affixed to a crudely made crucifix, Overkamp declares that the remaining six escapees will suffer the same fate. As Wallau dies, his spirit leaves his body and sees George, in whom he has great faith, making his way across a field. On his way to Mainz, George enters a farming village and cuts his hand on some glass shards that have been imbedded in the village walls. He then steals a coat out of a shed and is forced to hide in a wood pile after police storm the streets in search of him. The police instead find Pelzer, who quickly becomes Overkamp's second victim. Exhausted and hungry, George arrives in Mainz the next day and, unable to continue to Schenck's address on the other side of town, rests in a church. Elsewhere, Franz Marnet, an old friend of George, who until recently had been living in Berlin, meets with Leo Hermann, the leader of the local resistance movement. Aware of George's plight, Marnet solicits Leo's help in getting him money and a passport, but neither man knows how to contact the fugitive. George is sure that all of his known friends and associates are being watched, so he goes to see Leni, the woman with whom he was romantically involved prior to his arrest. Although Leni once swore to wait forever for George, she is now married and refuses to help him in any way. Despondent, George wanders into the street, where he sees Bellani being pursued across some rooftops. As a bloodthirsty crowd watches, Bellani is shot and cornered, then proudly jumps to his death. After George staggers away from the gruesome sight, he notices the Marelli Theatre Shop and goes inside. Recalling that Bellani was planning to get new clothes from costumer Mme. Marelli, George explains that the acrobat is not coming but would like him to take the items. Sensing George's situation, Mme. Marelli not only gives him the clothes but slips some money into his coat pocket as well. Mme. Marelli also advises him to have her neighbor, Dr. Loewenstein, look at his hand. Like Mme. Marelli, Loewenstein, a Jew, deduces George's situation, but tends to his badly infected hand. The feverish George then sees that Overkamp has printed his photograph in the newspapers and grows increasingly nervous. When George finally arrives at Schenck's apartment, he learns from a neighbor that Schenck was arrested by the Gestapo the previous day. In total despair, George returns to the street and is followed into a courtyard by a suited man, who turns out to Fuellgrabe. After revealing that they are the only two escapees still alive, Fuellgrabe declares that he is turning himself in and suggests that George do the same. George refuses to give up and, while the police broadcast his current description, which has been provided by Schenck's neighbor, over a public address system, he makes his way to Paul Roeder, the only friend he knows with no anti-government background. Unaware that George is a fugitive, Paul, a factory worker, and his wife Liessel welcome him into their home. The big-hearted if politicially naïve Paul soon deduces that George is in trouble and insists that he stay the night. The next morning, Paul goes to see Bruno Sauer, an architect who once pledged to help George if he were ever in special need, but Sauer turns Paul away without learning his name or George's whereabouts. Later, however, a contrite Sauer, whose wife Hedy has condemned him as a coward, visits Marnet and Leo, and tells them about Paul's visit. From Sauer's description, Marnet deduces Paul's identity and inquires about his address at a local market. Before Marnet, who has arranged passage for George on a Dutch boat the next night, arrives at the Roeders', Liessel reveals that a stranger was asking about them at the market. Sure that the police are on to him, George insists on leaving the Roeders' and is taken by Paul to an inn where Fiedler, Paul's trusted co-worker, has arranged a room for him. When Fiedler reveals that he may have seen Marnet with mutual friend Wilhelm Reinhardt, Paul offers to drop by Reinhardt's the next morning and discreetly inquire about Marnet, who he hopes can help George. As Paul is leaving home the next day, however, he is picked by the Gestapo. Although Marnet, who witnessed Paul's arrest, tells Leo that he will "crack," Paul is released that night, having revealed nothing. Paul then goes to Reinhardt's and happily discovers Marnet there. Later, at the inn, George receives a passport and sailing instructions from delicatessan owner Poldi Schlamm, a resistance volunteer sent by Marnet. George is then warned by Toni, a sympathetic maid with whom he has fallen in love, that the Gestapo are at the inn. Toni hides George in her room until the Gestapo leave, and while he is waiting for his departure time, she confesses her love for him. Although he insists that he will return for her, Toni knows she will never see George again. When Toni asks him what he plans to do in Holland, George says that he wants to repay all the people who helped him. Declaring that he finally understands what Wallau tried to teach him about faith in "the souls of men" and their "God-given decency," George kisses Toni goodbye and boards his boat to freedom. +

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

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