They Live in Fear Film Details
Overview: After witnessing the killing of a professor in concentration camp “Dachau” German student Paul emigrates to the USA. Here an American fellow student endangers Paul’s new American existence …
Tagline: Young America… shows the way!
Review: Watching They Live in Fear I was continually reminded of other wartime propaganda products, such as the Disney flick, Education for Death (Geronimi 1944), as well as Edward Dmytryk’s 1943 RKO cash cow Hitler’s Children, and Lester Cowan’s independently produced 1944 film, Tomorrow the World, based on Gow and d’Usseau’s hit Broadway play. Parts of They Live in Fear seem to have been inspired by these other films. For instance, the Nazi classroom scene at the start of They Live in Fear very closely resembles the Nazi classroom scene in Hitler’s Children, a far superior film, while the story of a Hitler Youth struggling to acclimatise to life in America is straight out of Tomorrow the World. . Furthermore, I couldn’t help thinking of real-life ex-Hitler Youth turned US Army Air Corps officer, Staff Sergeant Egon Hanfstaengl whose father was a committed Nazi and a close friend of Hitler. Born in New York, Egon had grown up in Germany and as a child had actually been Hitler’s godson and called the future Fuhrer “Uncle ‘Dolf”. In 1936 Egon escaped Germany with his father and while his dad was incarcerated in a prison camp in Canada, Egon enrolled at Harvard University where he studied until 1941 when he deferred and join the Air Corps. I found myself wondering if They Live in Fear is based partly on Hanfstaengl’s story and, for that matter, whether several other wartime propaganda films found inspiration from this Nazi-turned-American patriot. The film has very few good or even convincing performances and most of its cast, with the exception of Otto Kruger, were amateur unknowns whose performances seem very self conscious and underrehearsed. Indeed, the whole film feels very much like a B-product knocked out by Paramount on half a dime. According to Schull and Wilt the film was not well-received and the Motion Picture Herald summed it up as “Nazi Turns Jitterbug” (392). The film becomes too transparently didactic in its “nazi evil, America good” message and its over-the-top pro-American propaganda dialogue in the final act is played on so thick that I imagine it no doubt turned off audiences even in 1944.
Duration: 65 min
Also known as: Filhos de Tio Sam,They Live in Fear