Watch on the Rhine - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Watch on the Rhine Reviews

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½ March 7, 2017
Despite the melodrama, a good film in the end.
December 3, 2016
Interesting Noire. Cast is in good form.
February 13, 2016
It is not noble. It is only the way we must live.

Sara and Kurt flee Germany back into the United States with their three children. They have extended family in the US. Kurt sympathizes for his countrymen and creates an underground railroad of sorts to save German refugees. When Kurt turns up missing, Sara tries to keep her sons from finding out about their father's past and following in his footsteps.


Herman Shumlin, director of Confidential Agent, delivers Watch on the Rhine in his directorial debut. The storyline for this picture is very good and well executed. The characters and sub plots are entertaining and the acting is very good. The cast includes Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Eric Roberts, Anthony Caruso, and Henry Daniell.

"Please do not talk. Please don't seem nervous."

I came across this on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and decided to give it a shot because it starred the magnificent Bette Davis. She was excellent in this film and the content was well told. This has some worthwhile sequence of events that makes it worth watching once for fans of the classics.

"Fashions of sin change."

Grade: B
November 16, 2015
A movie you have to pay attention to as the dialogue is complex, and so it is also not just war propaganda.
½ November 18, 2014
Slightly weird, talky anti-Nazi film that doesn't seem to "get" Nazis. Of course I'm talking from the hindsight of history, but the exact nature of Nazi Germany doesn't seem to be well established. Placing the film in Washington D.C. really hurts the film, I think; it just doesn't make sense for a Resistance leader to be convalescing there during the war. I feel like London was maybe the original setting, and this would make a lot more sense. Also, just too "talky," even for a play; too many grand speeches that don't really land.
½ June 30, 2014
Well adapted and well told, Watch on the Rhine is a classic treasure.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2014
A middling Bette Davis film which doesn't happen very often. I get the sense that this is yet another propaganda film and thus the actors only have one dimension to explore. Only mildly entertaining.
March 1, 2014
By today's standards, this is a very "talky" film. But, with that said, it has a lot to "say" about politics and what was happeing in Europe at that time. If you are not a patient movie watcher then this movie is not for you, but, if you are patient and listen carefully to the dialogue and speeches made during the events as they unfold, the viewer will be rewarded with an intriguing story. My only complaint is the ending was wrapped up just a little too quickly....the entire cast turns in fine performances. Watch this only if you enjoy older films that are more cerebral.
February 28, 2014
based on a play by lillian hellman about nazis and spies in WWII
May 10, 2013
Overly dramatic but intriguing drama. Bette brilliant as ever and Lukas oozed bravery.
August 26, 2012
An important movie from a dark time in history. Bette Davis and Paul Lukas are fantastic in this anti-nazi film that is moving and not too propagandist. Lucille Watson is also great as the family matriarch who comes to see the struggle of good versus evil under her own roof. This film is a definite must see.
½ June 5, 2012
Okay war film in which a family, which includes husband and wife Paul Lukas and Bette Davis, respectively, of their return to the United States from Germany, in the early stages of World War II. When they return, the two conceal a secret that the husband is an agent who is on a spy mission in the USA. At once a very effective movie from the 1940's, this movie, which once again contains an Oscar winning performance (that being Paul Lukas), has lost its luster. It could have been a great drama, but instead it underwhelms because there is too much dialogue for the viewer to handle. It's unfortunate and a bit of a letdown to see stars, such as Davis, not be in a great movie and one that has not aged well. The performances and score are the virtues to "Watch on the Rhine."
½ April 5, 2012
Bette Davis and Paul Lukas stars as a German fascist couple with children that somehow gets into the US to stay with her mother and brother, but all the while, they have a houseguest with ulterior motives of his own.
December 13, 2011
Expected more than that from this anti-Nazi movie.
October 3, 2011
What a truly, truly rich, moving experience. I love those films made in the war years, as they mean so much and teach so much and have so much more depth and meaning. Watch on the Rhine is no exception. I can see why Bette Davis took the role "for its importance." It teaches so much to the American people of its time - and even now - how we don't really know what it means to be a European in an Old World so often used to the kinds of conflict that created World War II.
The movie also strikingly doesn't feel like propaganda, even though the message was clearly to move its audience into action (aren't all worthwhile films aimed at personal change?). It presented a very enlightening, moving perspective on both the German menace and the Underground protagonists. Muller (Paul Lukas) explains how we will one day feel pity for those Germans who just "follow orders" and are really just fools, like De Brancovis (George Coulouris). And the perspective that Muller and the Underground may indeed be like the evil they fight - to see Muller admit he was bad. Situations like this are not black and white.
After seeing this, my sister wanted to learn more about WWII, the Underground, and the Holocaust. Through it, she's had the experience I've had so long ago.
In that time, I see character, selflessness, and purpose greater than self. I love it so, and I am saddened by the blatant selfishness that defines today's society. Movies like this inspire me and make me see continually that ideals and convictions can be attained and are indeed beautiful.
½ September 26, 2011
Pretty intriguing and exhilarating especially during wartime isn't it? Great performance from the entire cast, especially Bette Davis and Paul Lukas.
½ August 10, 2011
It might be Bette Davis' name above the title but Watch on the Rhine is very much an ensemble piece. Elevated by several strong performances, the film is a rather worthy propaganda piece, with a message that sadly gets in the way of the drama. Though the film's theatrical qualities have been criticised--it's very wordy and sometimes feels a little phoney--the story itself is solid enough and told with great conviction. Likewise the characters are interesting, largely thanks to the actors portraying them; Davis is fine but far from her best, while Paul Lukas is great opposite her in his Oscar-winning turn. Overall a decent picture but very much a product of its time.
July 27, 2011
You know a movie's gonna be bad if it stars a well known actor, yet no one remembers it!
½ June 1, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

(1943) Watch On The Rhine

Based on a stage play written by Dashiell Hammett and put on screen about justification over eliminating Nazis war crimianls who escape, bringing their beliefs and their antisemitic activities overseas after WWII!

Well acted by cast which won the "Oscar for Best Actor" for Paul Lucas as Kurt out of 4 nominations but this film is very tame in todays standards, now that we have films like The Marathon Man! this movie is very preachy, outdated and talkative, which if a film were to be made like this toaday wouldn've work- it needs to push some boundaries!

2 out of 4 stars
March 21, 2011
Bette Davis gets star billing but is really a supporting character in this film which won Paul Lukas a Best Actor Oscar (beating out Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca no less). They play the Mullers, a family who has been wandering Europe for 8 years fighting against the Fascist juggernaut. They've come to Suburban Washington DC to visit Bette's family (she is an American married to a German). There are other guests as well and they aren't such characters of nobility. While so much of this political thriller is specific to it's time, the moral choices and dilemmas faced by the characters is still gripping and thought provoking. Lucille Watson, who played Mary Haines' mother in "The Women" sort of expands on that performance in a delightful turn as Bette's wealthy gabfest of a mother. I think Lukas probably won the Oscar more for the nature of the role and it's cultural relevance in 1943, than for his actual performance which struck me as merely serviceable.
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