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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
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Karl Hartl occupies two special places in cinema history: one in the world at large as an artist of great stature during the mid-20th century, and the other in his native Austria as one of the country's most important filmmakers during that period, as well as one of its anti-Nazi patriots during World War II. His decision to stay in Germany (and then Austria) during the Hitler era kept him from gaining the recognition in America enjoyed by Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, and other German and Austrian exiles, but it allowed him to make an important contribution to his homeland, as a patriot and quiet resistance leader during the dark years. Born in Vienna in 1899, Hart began working at the Sascha Film Factory during World War I, when the company was short of workers. By 1919, Hart was working as an assistant director, and helped produce The Prince and the Pauper (1920), Masters of the Sea, A Vanished World, and Samson and Delilah (all 1922). Hartl became a director in his own right in 1930 with A Student Song from Heidelberg. Following the comedy The Prince of Arcadia, Hartl took on F.P. 1 Doesn't Answer (1933), a tale of espionage and romance surrounding the construction of a gigantic airplane landing platform in the middle of the Atlantic. Made at Berlin's UFA Studios, the movie was done with three different casts -- one German (led by Hans Albers), another English (led by Conrad Veidt), and another French (led by Charles Boyer) -- all directed by Hartl. For a change of pace, Hartl's next film was an adaptation of Ralph Benatzky's operetta Her Highness, the Saleslady (for which he also did a French version), assisted by 26-year-old Henri-Georges Clouzot. Then it was back to science fiction with the futuristic thriller Gold in 1934. Shot on a grand scale with extraordinary sets, the movie captured the imagination of millions of filmgoers with its tale of a scientist's pursuit of modern alchemy. The movie's cutting-edge scientific orientation resulted in its subsequent suppression by the Nazi-era government, which tried to seize and destroy every known print. Hartl was able to work in Germany after the rise of Hitler and did his best to keep politics out of his films with Der Zigeunerbaron, Die Leuchter des Kaisers, Ritt in die Freiheit, and Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes War. Hartl had hoped to crown his comedic achievements the following year with a series of movies starring the celebrated leading man Hans Albers and a historical spoof called Casanova, but the German takeover of Austria in the spring of 1938 forced him to abandon the film. It was at this point that fate intervened in a most unexpected way in Hartl's career, when the German propaganda ministry announced the formation of Wien-Film, a production unit that would make movies on behalf of the Third Reich and its propaganda requirements -- and they wanted Hartl to head the studio. He hesitated, but was persuaded by his colleagues, who were fearful that if Hartl didn't accept, the ministry would send in a dedicated Nazi to take charge. Thus, Hartl felt forced to accept the offer to head the group.Hartl ended up running Wien-Film for almost seven years, keeping productions centered on Austrian history and Viennese themes. He managed to put the propaganda films demanded by Berlin on the back-burner for years, claiming substandard scripts had been provided or that the necessary actors or technicians were unavailable, or the needed facilities were in use, though some propaganda films were produced. On the whole, Hartl made sure that the movies produced during his tenure had their subjects buried safely in the pre-Nazi, un-German, Viennese past before the 20th century -- costumed romances set in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ironically, these very attributes made the resulting movies quietly political and turned Wien-Film under Hartl into a focus of quiet anti-German resistance. During his entire seven