AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Man I Married
Alternate Title: I Married a Nazi
Director: Irving Pichel (Dir)
Release Date:   2 Aug 1940
Production Date:   4 May--mid-Jun 1940
Duration (in mins):   65 or 76-77
Duration (in feet):   6,940
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Cast:   Joan Bennett (Carol [Hoffman])  
    Francis Lederer (Eric Hoffman)  
    Lloyd Nolan (Kenneth Delane)  
    Anna Sten (Freda Heinkel)  
    Otto Kruger (Heinrich Hoffman)  
    Maria Ouspenskaya (Frau Gerhardt)  
    Ludwig Stossel (Dr. Hugo Gerhardt)  
    Johnny Russell (Ricky [Hoffman])  
    Lionel Royce (Herr Deckart)  
    Fredrik Vogeding (Traveler)  
    Ernst Deutsch (Otto)  
    Egon Brecher (Czech)  
    William Kaufman (Conductor)  
    Frank Reicher (Friehof)  
    Charles Irwin (English newspaperman)  
    Lillian Porter (Receptionist)  
    Lillian West (Secretary)  
    Walter Bonn (Customs official)  
    Glen Cavender (Petty official)  
    Hans Von Morhart (Gestapo officer)  
    William Yetter (Gestapo officer)  
    Carl Freybe (Gestapo officer)  
    Ragnar Qvale (Freihof's older son)  
    Rudy Frolich (Freihof's son)  
    John Stark (Storm trooper)  
    Tom Mizer (Storm trooper)  
    Hans Schumm (First storm trooper)  
    Robert O. Davis (Second storm trooper)  
    Greta Meyer (Hausfrau)  
    Albert Geigel (Boy)  
    Eleanor Wesselhoeft (Old lady)  
    Diane Fisher (Young girl)  
    John Hiestand (Announcer)  
    Leyland Hodgson (Announcer)  
    Arno Frey (Announcer)  
    Eugene Borden (Announcer)  
    Harry Depp    

Summary: In July 1938, The Smart World magazine art critic Carol Hoffman prepares to leave New York with her husband Eric on a trip to Germany. Eric must go to Germany to help his father with the family business, but both he and Carol see the trip as an extended vacation. Dr. Hugo Gerhardt arrives at Carol's office to ask a favor. His brother, the renowned philosopher Hans Gerhardt of Berlin University, has been taken to the Dachau concentration camp. Hugo has raised $500 in bribe money and asks Carol and Eric to deliver it for him. Arriving by boat in Bremerhaven, Eric tells Carol he feels like a tourist, not a native. On the train to Berlin, Eric reads a German newspaper to Carol, telling her how, according to the journal, there is no unemployment in Germany and how German radios and cars are cheaper, yet superior, to their American counterparts. Seeing a train of prisoners, Eric and Carol are informed by a fellow traveler that they are Austrian forced labor. The traveler also comments on how inferior German products really are. At the Berlin train station, the couple is met by Freda Heinkel, Eric's old flame. Once at home, Eric's father Heinrich explains that the old Germany he knew is gone and that Eric must now either take over the family business or sell it. At a large military rally, Eric begins to feel that Germany is "alive, exciting," much to Carol's chagrin. Then, at a dance, Eric confesses to Carol that he wants to stay in Germany and run the family factory. Freda arrives and tells Carol that they cannot give the money to Hans Gerhardt, as he is a traitor to his country. Carol, despite this, vows to deliver the money as promised. At the Overseas News Service , Carol meets American reporter Kenneth Delane. When Carol asks about Hans, Ken tells her that Gerhardt died in Dachau of "acute appendicitis." Ken suggest that Carol give the money to Gerhardt's family. On the way to see the Gerhardts, Carol and Ken run into a Storm Trooper patrol, which is making Czech women and children pick up garbage in the streets. At the Gerhardt home, Frau Gerhardt thanks Ken and Carol, but refuses their offer to send her to America. When told the official cause of her husband's death, Frau Gerhardt informs them that Hans had his appendix removed twenty years earlier. After Carol returns home, Eric dismisses what she has seen as isolated incidents. When he informs Carol that he is having dinner with Freda and some Nazi officials, Carol calls Hitler "Schickelgruber" (his real name), a comment that Eric declares is grounds for divorce. That night, Carol attempts to help their neighbor Friehof hide his eldest son, who has just escaped from a concentration camp. When the Gestapo arrives, however, Friehof's youngest son turns them in. At Gestapo headquarters, Carol is interrogated by Herr Deckart, but Ken, using the power of the American press, gets her released. At Hitler's speech at the Berlin Sportspalast, Eric fully absorbs the Nazi idea, to Carol's horror. The next morning, Eric reveals to Carol that he has decided to stay in Germany permanently. When Carol protests, Eric admits that he has joined the Nazi party and is in love with Freda. Carol agrees to a divorce, but Eric refuses to let her take their son Ricky back to America with her. Ken offers his help in sneaking Ricky out of Germany, but Eric foils the plan. Heinrich confronts his son, however, telling him that the boy belongs with his mother. When Eric, with Freda's support, still refuses to give up Ricky, Heinrich tells him that his mother was Jewish. Repulsed, Freda leaves and Heinrich informs the shattered Eric that now he will have to suffer what he would have done to others. At the train station, Carol and Ricky leave Germany, as Ken tells them that he will be staying in Germany for the duration. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Irving Pichel (Dir)
  Booth McCracken (Asst dir)
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck (Prod)
  Raymond Griffith (Assoc prod)
Writer: Oliver H. P. Garrett (Scr)
Photography: Peverell Marley (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  Hans Peters (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Simpson (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dresser)
Costumes: Travis Banton (Cost)
Music: David Buttolph (Mus dir)
Sound: Joseph E. Aiken (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel Swastika by Oscar Schisgall (New York, 1939).
Authors: Oscar Schisgall

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 2/8/1940 dd/mm/yyyy LP10157

PCA NO: 6331
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Political
 
Subjects (Major): Fascists and fascism
  Fathers and sons
  German Americans
  Germany
  Nazism
  Marriage
  Reporters
  Politics
 
Subjects (Minor): Adolf Hitler
  Appendicitis
  Berlin (Germany)
  Betrayal
  Bribery
  Concentration camps
  Czechs
  Dances
  Deception
  Fugitives
  Gestapo
  Interrogation
  Jews
  Joseph Goebbels
  Political prisoners
  Rallies
  Speeches
  Torture
  Trains

Note: The working title of this film was I Married a Nazi . Many contemporary sources indicate that Oscar Schisgall's novel Swastika was first published as a serialized story in Liberty magazine. George Sanders and Richard Greene were cast in the film at the start of production. According to a Twentieth Century-Fox press release, Saunders, originally cast in the "Eric Hoffman" role, was still acting in Foreign Correspondent , which had gone over schedule, and was forced to give up his role in this film. Greene, cast as "Kenneth Delane," was replaced after he became bed-ridden for two weeks with the flu. HR production charts list William Gargan in the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Press releases report that over "two hundred" applicants were seen for the role of Adolf Hitler in this film. Carl Ottman was finally cast in the role, but his performance was cut from the film. In the scene at the Berlin Sportspalast, Hitler's actual voice was used. Press materials also indicate that actual Nazi propaganda was used in the set design of the film. In addition, press releases note that 1,000 Nazi uniforms were used in this film, though they were shared with another Twentieth Century-Fox film, Four Sons . The following was reported by Twentieth Century-Fox press materials: during a scene that required fifty young boys to dress in Nazi uniforms, eight boys walked off the set, unable to play their characters. A new type of set construction was featured in this film, in which canvas, instead of wood, was used, which led to a twenty-five per cent savings in construction costs. For the scene in which storm troopers forced Czechs to pick up garbage in the street, there was not enough garbage available at the Twentieth Century-Fox cafeteria, so trucks were sent out to collect garbage from nearby Beverly Hills housewives. A NYT article states that this film, along with other anti-Nazi propaganda films from Hollywood did not perform well at the box office. The article speculated that audiences were either bored by the constant Nazi depravities or objected to "having a philosphic attitude rammed down their throats." An undated HR clipping from the AFI Mayer Library states that Twentieth Century-Fox and the German consul had heated discussion over this film, with the German consul threatening to refuse distribution of Twentieth Century-Fox films in his country. According to modern sources, the film was pulled shortly after its release in an attempt to stay neutral in the then-European conflict and so as not to offend "a friendly foreign country." Thus, the working title was changed and few prints of the film were struck. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   20 Jul 1940.   
Daily Variety   12 Jul 40   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 Jul 40   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 40   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 40   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   20 Jul 40   p. 26.
New York Times   3 Aug 40   p. 9.
New York Times   18 May 1941.   
Variety   17 Jul 40   p. 16.

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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.
 
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