The Red Danube (1949)

118-119 mins | Drama | 14 October 1949

Director:

George Sidney

Producer:

Carey Wilson

Cinematographer:

Charles Rosher

Editor:

James E. Newcom

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Vespers in Vienna , Storm Over Vienna , The Strange Case of Mary Buhlen , The Case of Maria Buhlen and The Crossroad . According to an Apr 1947 LAT news item, production on the film was initially set to begin before mid-Jun 1947. An Oct 1947 HR news item noted that art director Hans Peters was part of a shooting unit that filmed background footage for the picture in Vienna and Rome. The same news item listed Victor Saville as the film's director. Although some filming took place at Clover Field in California, the rest of the picture was shot entirely at M-G-M's Hollywood studios.
       The Red Danube was one of several anti-Communist films made in Hollywood in the early days of the Cold War. For additional information, see entries above and below for The Iron Curtain , The Red Menace and I Married a Communist . The Red Danube received mostly negative reviews in its initial release. The Var reviewer commented: "Neither a thriller nor a sound propaganda exposition of the totalitarian threat, 'Danube' falls between two chairs, landing the harder because it first wanders in a morass of religious talk." The NYT reviewer noted that the film inadvertently lampooned the "...Western procedure in the quadripartite administration of Vienna through official blindness to Soviet cunning." The film received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Black & White Art Direction-Set Decoration. Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford and Janet Leigh recreated their film roles for a ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Vespers in Vienna , Storm Over Vienna , The Strange Case of Mary Buhlen , The Case of Maria Buhlen and The Crossroad . According to an Apr 1947 LAT news item, production on the film was initially set to begin before mid-Jun 1947. An Oct 1947 HR news item noted that art director Hans Peters was part of a shooting unit that filmed background footage for the picture in Vienna and Rome. The same news item listed Victor Saville as the film's director. Although some filming took place at Clover Field in California, the rest of the picture was shot entirely at M-G-M's Hollywood studios.
       The Red Danube was one of several anti-Communist films made in Hollywood in the early days of the Cold War. For additional information, see entries above and below for The Iron Curtain , The Red Menace and I Married a Communist . The Red Danube received mostly negative reviews in its initial release. The Var reviewer commented: "Neither a thriller nor a sound propaganda exposition of the totalitarian threat, 'Danube' falls between two chairs, landing the harder because it first wanders in a morass of religious talk." The NYT reviewer noted that the film inadvertently lampooned the "...Western procedure in the quadripartite administration of Vienna through official blindness to Soviet cunning." The film received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Black & White Art Direction-Set Decoration. Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford and Janet Leigh recreated their film roles for a 19 Mar 1951 Lux Radio Theatre version of the story. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Sep 1949.
---
Daily Variety
20 Sep 49
p. 3, 10
Film Daily
26 Sep 49
p. 21.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 47
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 47
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 48
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 49
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 49
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 49
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1947.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Sep 49
p. 25.
New York Times
9 Dec 49
p. 37.
Variety
21 Sep 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
Women's cost
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Vespers in Vienna by Bruce Marshall (Boston, 1947).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Strange Case of Mary Buhlen
The Crossroad
Vespers in Vienna
Storm Over Vienna
The Case of Maria Buhlen
Release Date:
14 October 1949
Premiere Information:
World premiere in San Francisco, CA: 22 September 1949
Production Date:
late February--late April 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 September 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2555
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
118-119
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13855
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, British Col. Michael "Hooky" Nicobar is transferred from Rome to Vienna, a city divided into four governing zones: American, British, French and Russian. Hooky's assignment will be to assist Brigadier C. M. V. Catlock in monitoring possible subversive activities against the Allied nations. Accompanying Michael on the trip are his aides, Audrey Quail, Major John "Twingo" McPhimister and Private David Moonlight. Soon after arriving in Vienna, Hooky learns that he will be in charge of efforts to forcibly repatriate Soviet citizens living in the British zone. The assignment troubles Hooky, who immediately expresses his concerns about the motives of the Russians and their history of poor cooperation. After receiving their orders, Hooky, Audrey, Twingo and David are sent to a convent, where they will living during their stay in Vienna. There, Twingo meets a beautiful but mysterious dancer who calls herself Maria Buhlen, but whose real name is Olga Alexandrova. Maria, who is a Russian, conceals her identity from all but the Mother Superior at the convent, fearing that the revelation will result in her deportation to Russia. Twingo falls instantly in love with Maria, but she goes to great lengths to avoid him because she does not know if he can be trusted. Determined to win Maria's attentions, Twingo attends her ballet rehearsals night after night, but does not succeed in impressing her. One day, Mother Superior formally introduces Maria to Twingo, and they make a dinner date. During their dinner, Maria tells Twingo that she is not Austrian but does not reveal her nationality. Later that night, after leaving her apartment, Twingo sees ... +


In 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, British Col. Michael "Hooky" Nicobar is transferred from Rome to Vienna, a city divided into four governing zones: American, British, French and Russian. Hooky's assignment will be to assist Brigadier C. M. V. Catlock in monitoring possible subversive activities against the Allied nations. Accompanying Michael on the trip are his aides, Audrey Quail, Major John "Twingo" McPhimister and Private David Moonlight. Soon after arriving in Vienna, Hooky learns that he will be in charge of efforts to forcibly repatriate Soviet citizens living in the British zone. The assignment troubles Hooky, who immediately expresses his concerns about the motives of the Russians and their history of poor cooperation. After receiving their orders, Hooky, Audrey, Twingo and David are sent to a convent, where they will living during their stay in Vienna. There, Twingo meets a beautiful but mysterious dancer who calls herself Maria Buhlen, but whose real name is Olga Alexandrova. Maria, who is a Russian, conceals her identity from all but the Mother Superior at the convent, fearing that the revelation will result in her deportation to Russia. Twingo falls instantly in love with Maria, but she goes to great lengths to avoid him because she does not know if he can be trusted. Determined to win Maria's attentions, Twingo attends her ballet rehearsals night after night, but does not succeed in impressing her. One day, Mother Superior formally introduces Maria to Twingo, and they make a dinner date. During their dinner, Maria tells Twingo that she is not Austrian but does not reveal her nationality. Later that night, after leaving her apartment, Twingo sees a mysterious figure lurking near her building. The next day, when Catlock tells Hooky that the Russians are looking for a woman named Olga Alexandrova, he begins to suspect that the woman he knows as Maria is really Olga. Maria eventually tells Hooky about herself, that she is the daughter of Russian dissidents, and confesses that she is very frightened. After learning that the Mother Superior is providing sanctuary for Maria, Hooky is faced with the dilemma of dutifully reporting her to the authorities or protecting her from harm. When Russian Colonel Piniev and his aides arrive at the convent looking for Maria, Hooky does not reveal what he knows. After the Russians leave, however, Hooky tells Maria that he plans to turn her over the following day, and puts Twingo in charge of guarding her. Twingo gives Maria the key to the convent, thus allowing her to flee unnoticed late in the night. The plan is foiled, however, when Hooky catches Twingo aiding Maria. Later, when Piniev returns to the convent and assures Hooky that Maria will be treated well, he surrenders her to the Russians. Twingo is angered by the betrayal, and the Mother Superior criticizes Hooky for his action. Several days pass, and Hooky and Twingo continue their repatriation assignment with a visit to Russian Professor Serge Bruloff. When they inform Bruloff that he is being deported, Bruloff, rather than face a return to Russia, shoots himself in the head. The incident causes Hooky to question the Russians' treatment of their citizens, and he when he sees Maria crying out to him from the back of a deportation truck, he changes his opinion of the repatriation efforts and vows to raise an international awareness of the Russian policy. One day, Hooky takes Mother Superior with him to inspect a train carrying displaced persons, and they are shocked when they see the deplorable conditions on the train. Mother Superior blames the Russians' cruelty on their lack of faith in God, and after the inspection, she tells Hooky that she saw Maria on the train, and that she must have escaped from the convoy taking her back to Moscow. When Hooky learns that Maria and the other displaced persons are being sent to a remote British zone in southern Austria, sends for her and reunites her with Twingo. The next time Piniev visits the convent looking for Maria, Hooky refuses to cooperate with him. The next day, Hooky meets his superiors and learns that a brief he wrote about forcible repatriation is being considered by the United Nations, and that the British and French have vowed to end the policy. Because of his unyielding stance on the issue, Hooky is relieved of his duties. Tragedy strikes a short time later, when Maria, discovered by the military police, kills herself by jumping out of a window. Time passes, and Hooky's efforts to end repatriation finally succeed. After receiving word from his superiors that the army is to be "humanized," he is promoted and put in charge of administering the new policy. +

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

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