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None Shall Escape(1944)

When ads hailed this Columbia feature as “The Most Prophetic Picture of Our Time!” they weren’t exaggerating. Inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s statement that the Allies were gathering information on Nazi war criminals in order to prosecute them after the war’s end, producer Samuel Bischoff put together a film that anticipated the Nuremberg Trials by a year. Alfred Neumann and Joseph Than’s Oscar-nominated story uses testimony at the trials to look back on the rise and fall of fictional Nazi leader named Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox), whose hateful career is motivated by his loss of a leg fighting for Germany in World War I. He’s forced to flee his hometown in Poland when he rapes a school girl, only to return during the war as the Reich Commissioner of Western Poland. In that capacity, he supervises the shipment of Jews to the concentration camps, kills the local rabbi and forces his former fiancée’s (Marsha Hunt) daughter to work as a prostitute at a Nazi officer’s club. This was, in fact, the first fiction film to mention the Final Solution, and Hungarian-born director André De Toth had shot newsreel footage of the Nazi invasion of Poland. Working from an insightful screenplay by Lester Cole, De Toth creates a chilling study of the forces that drive people to unspeakable acts. (d. André De Toth, 85m, Digital)

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