Entertaining early wartime B picture about spies in San Francisco
This rarity shot in late 1941 and released in the spring of 1942 deals with fifth columnists in San Francisco. A collection of Nazis are in league with the Japanese who 'are coming in, as soon as the Fuehrer gives the word'. In this respect, the film was prescient, as it was certainly scripted and probably also shot before Pearl Harbour. A rotund and jolly detective is played by familiar character actor Andy Devine, with his unmistakable rasping voice. The love interest, who is helping the San Francisco police (it is too early for the FBI yet to be thought of in this context), is Irene Hervey, who had made 'a picture or two' already and easily walked through this part. As a 'thrush', she has to keep singing 'Who Is Sylvia?', the famous song by Schubert, with lyrics by Shakespeare, every time a Nazi turns up at her bar on a boat at the docks. (The Schooner Club, Dock 12, in the days when the docks were still used by sailors and were dangerous and dark.) Whoever wrote the script didn't know San Francisco very well, because one of the spies says at one point: 'I've arranged for a speed boat at North Beach.' This is hilarious, considering that North Beach, despite its name, is nowhere near any water. (Those Los Angeles people, what do they know?) There are plenty of angles and double-crosses in the film, and one bad guy turns out to be 'a member of Canadian Intelligence', and a good guy after all. It is all great fun, lightly made, with an earnest effort to promote the causes of liberty and democracy, etc., with shots of Washington, Congress, etc., at the beginning, and all the credits including the title at the end of the film (a real shock!). There are no real San Francisco locations, as it is all studio stuff. The budget was probably five dollars. However, this is entertaining fare for the undiscriminating, everybody is having a good time, and let's not be too snobbish but just sit back and enjoy it on a rainy day.
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