Watch on the Rhine is a distinguished picture. It is even better than its powerful original stage version. It expresses the same urgent theme, but with broader sweep and in more affecting terms of personal emotion.
The film more than retains the vital theme of the original play. It actually carries the theme further and deeper, and it does so with passionate conviction and enormous skill. There is no compromise on controversial matters. Fascists are identified as such and, although the point is not brought home as it might have been, the industrial-financial support that makes fascism possible is also mentioned.
Just as he was in the play, Paul Lukas is the outstanding star of the film. Anything his part may have lost in the transfer of key lines to Bette Davis is offset by the projective value of the camera for closeups. His portrayal of the heroic German has the same quiet strength and the slowly gathering force that it had on the stage, but it now seems even better defined and carefully detailed, and it has much more vitality.
In the lesser starring part of the wife Davis gives a performance of genuine distinction.
1943: Best Actor (Paul Lukas).
Nominations: Best Picture, Supp. Actress (Lucile Watson), Screenplay