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Watch on the Rhine Details


An expansion of, and improvement upon, Lillian Hellman's stage play of the same name, Watch on the Rhine stars Paul Lukas, recreating his Broadway role of tireless anti-fascist crusader Kurt Muller. As the clouds of war gather in Europe in the late 1930s, Muller arrives in Washington DC, accompanied by his American wife Sara (top-billed Bette Davis) and their children Joshua (Donald Buka), Bodo (Eric Roberts) and Babette (Janis Wilson). The Mullers stay at the home of Sarah's wealthy mother Fanny Fannelly (Lucille Watson), who lives in her own world of society get-togethers and can't be bothered with politics. Also staying with Fanny is Rumanian aristocrat Teck de Branovis (George Coulouris) and his American wife Marthe (Geraldine Fitzgerald). To protect his family, Muller keeps his "underground" activities a secret from Fanny and her guests, but de Branovis is suspicious of the mild-mannered visitor. It turns out that de Branovis is actually a Nazi sympathizer, willing to betray Muller for a price. Using blackmail as one of his weapons, de Branovis threatens to destroy all that Muller has been fighting for. To prevent this, Muller kills de Branovis in cold blood. Now technically a murderer, Muller bids his family a reluctant goodbye, heading back to Europe to continue his vital work. If ever there was a justifiable homicide in a motion picture, it was the killing of the odious de Branovis in Watch on the Rhine. Still, the Hollywood production code dictated that a murderer must always pay for his crimes, thus a coda is added, alluding to Muller's death-providing a golden opportunity for a nifty smiling-through-the-tears curtain speech by Bette Davis. Scripted by Lillian Hellman's lover Dashiel Hammett, Watch on the Rhine earned several Academy Award nominations, as well as a "best actor" Oscar for Paul Lukas. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:August 27, 1943


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dashiell Hammett Best Screenplay 1943 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lucile Watson Best Supporting Actress 1943 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Paul Lukas Best Actor 1943 Winner
National Board of Review Paul Lukas Best Acting 1943 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Paul Lukas Best Actor 1943 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle Paul Lukas Best Actor 1943 Winner


Bette Davis
as Sara Muller
Paul Lukas
as Kurt Muller
Donald Woods
as David Farrelly
Geraldine Fitzgerald
as Marthe de Brancovis
George Coulouris
as Teck Debrancovis
Lucile Watson
as Fanny Farrelly
Beulah Bondi
as Anise
Henry Daniell
as Phili Von Ramme
Donald Buka
as Joshua Miller
Kurt Katch
as Herr Blecher
Clyde Fillmore
as Sam Chandler
Clarence Muse
as Horace
Elvira Curci
as Italian woman
Bill Washington
as Doc
Glen Cavender
as German Embassy Servant
Anthony Caruso
as Italian Man
Garry Owen
as Taxi Driver
Janis Wilson
as Babette Muller
Frank Reicher
as Admiral
Alan Hale, Jr.
as Boy
Howard Hickman
as Cyrus Penfield
Jack Mower
as Trainman
Wedgewood Nowell
as American Diplomat
Creighton Hale
as Chauffeur
Helmut Dantine
as Young Man


Herman Shumlin
Hal B. Wallis
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Play Author
Dashiell Hammett
Hal Mohr
Merritt B. Gerstad
Leo F. Forbstein
Musical Direction/Supervision
Max Steiner
Composer (Music Score)
Rudi Fehr
Julia Heron
Set Designer
Costume Designer
Jack Holden
Special Effects
Edwin DuPar
Special Effects