Watch on the Rhine was released in 1943 and directed by Herman Shulman. It is based on the play by Lillian Helman and written by Lillian Helman and Dashiell Hammet.
The film stars Bette Davis (Sara), Paul Lukas (Kurt), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Marthe), Lucile Watson (Fanny), Donald Woods (David), and George Coulouris (Teck).
Paul Lukas won the Academy Award for Best Actor beating Humphrey Bogart for Casablanca. Lucile Watson was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
The setting is 1940. Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe. Kurt Muller is an anti-fascist fighter fleeing Europe. At Sara's mother's house, a Romanian Count (Teck) living there who is a Nazi sympathizer. Teck discovers Kurt's attache case full of money and other items and attempts to blackmail Kurt to keep Teck from telling the Nazis where he is. Kurt's friend and fellow anti-fascist is captured in Europe. Will Kurt return to Europe and risk his life to help his friend? Will his son Joshua follow in his footsteps as a anti-fascist fighter? Will Teck turn Kurt over to the Nazi party?
There is also a developing romance/ friendship between David (Sara's brother) and Marthe (Teck's wife). Marthe unlike her husband Teck is a good person.
Janis Wilson (Babette), Eric Roberts (Bodo) and Donald Buka (Joshua) play Sara and Kurt's very well behaved children. Eric Roberts and Donald Buka overact the role of the well behaved children. But Janis Wilson plays the part of the well behaved Babette beautifully. She is loyal to her parents but not annoying. Janis Wilson is best known as playing Tina in Now Voyager and young Martha Ives in The Strange Love of Martha Ives. (Sazball did an early blog to this wonderful child actress).
Lucile Watson is hilarious as Sara's mother with an opinion about everything. She adds comic relief to a very serious subject matter. With lines like "We've been shaken out of the magnolias."
Bette Davis she gives a wonderful performance here as Kurt's loyal and loving wife, Sara. The love scenes between Kurt and Sara are beautiful and tender.
The movie is about family, loyalty and doing what is right for freedom.
This movie is a must see for anyone whether a fan of Bette Davis or not.