Authorship of one of 1939’s bestselling pieces of fiction, a novel entitled Escape, was ascribed to a mysterious Ethel Vance, whose identity was shrouded in mystery under the promotional idea that the revelations of her (his?) plot might inspire Nazi reprisals. Escape is laid in Germany, near the Swiss border, and the action takes place soon before the start of World War II when the secret police were terrorizing natives and foreign visitors.
It is excellent, suspenseful material and director Mervyn LeRoy succeeds admirably in sustaining throughout the picture a tense atmosphere of impending danger to the lives and limbs of his actors.
Robert Taylor is the heroic young American who naively brushes against Nazi officialdom while on a search for his mother, lately returned to Germany. She has disappeared after participating in a real estate deal.
Aid is furnished by Norma Shearer, who plays the Countess Von Treck, school mistress and just plain mistress of the cultured Conrad Veidt, a German general, who tempers cruelty with love for Wagnerian music.
The character roles are standouts. Philip Dorn, a young Hollander, makes his initial appearance in an American film in the part of the accomplice, Ritter. Felix Bressart is the old family friend and attendant, and although Albert Basserman has only a brief bit to do, he does it excellently.