In Nazi Germany in 1936 seven men escape from a concentration camp. The camp commander puts up seven crosses and, as the Gestapo returns each escapee he is put to death on a cross. The ...
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In Nazi Germany in 1936 seven men escape from a concentration camp. The camp commander puts up seven crosses and, as the Gestapo returns each escapee he is put to death on a cross. The seventh cross is still empty as George Heisler seeks freedom in Holland.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
As a publicity stunt for the film, MGM employed Spencer Tracy's lookalike stand-in Roy Thomas to go to seven US cities, where there was a 'George Heisler man hunt'. The first person who spotted him in each city won a $500 war bond. See more »
When Toni goes up to her dark room and turns up the oil lamp, the small stove in the background also lights up from within at the same time. See more »
This film stars Spencer Tracy as a concentration camp escapee named George Heisler who navigates his way to freedom through the perils of Nazi Germany. Along the way he meets many people who help him, and his cynicism and fatigue fade away. Early in the story, soon after he's left the camp, he meets a little girl, and in his mind he's sure that he'll kill her if she attracts the wrong kind of attention to him. Next he lurches into the home of his ex-girlfriend, frightening her. And no wonder, because his face has a twisted expression on it that frightened ME - in this moment Tracy is almost unrecognizable. This man's an animal, he's been through hell and he has no reason to believe that the world is anything other than a sewer. For my money this is a pretty startling opening for a 1944 movie.
Not to throw definitions around too freely, I'm tempted to describe this film as Nazi noir. Heisler weaves his way through German society of 1936, where it's the criminals who are in power, and scuttling through the streets are the folks who are merely trying to survive, in any way possible. At the back of our minds is the worrisome knowledge that things are going to get exponentially worse. Fred Zinnemann, the director, creates an atmosphere of claustrophobia and palpable dread where the night is filled with dark shadows and any tiny act of resistance to the Nazi regime is a colossal act of courage. There is almost no violence in the film, yet the threat of violence hangs heavy in the air. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy play Paul and Liesel Roeder, a couple who are old friends of Heisler and who befriend him. Paul is politically neutral. He doesn't follow the news, and one gets the feeling that he would rather not know anything about what's going on. One of the fascinating threads in the film is his growing awareness. The scenes with Cronyn and Tandy are wonderful - real chemistry is bubbling here and they seem to belong together (and we all know what happened in real life). I must mention that George Macready and Agnes Moorehead are very good in small roles. There's considerable art and intelligence in "The Seventh Cross", and a preview of what was to come in Zinnemann's illustrious career.
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