Confessions of a Nazi Spy

The German-American Bund provides a fertile milieu for German nationalists, agitators and Nazi spies. Spurred by a pathological mix of fanaticism and greed, unemployed rebel Kurt Schneider joins the group. After a few informant missions, the FBI begins track Schneider and an extensive network of conspirators ... Before Edward G. Robinson appears as the FBI agent and the film dons the familiar cloak of a Warner Brothers gangster film, Hollywood’s first anti-Nazi film delivers its message with a near documentary feel – fact, stranger than fiction. Of special note are the many roles played by Jews who had fled Germany. One is Wolfgang Zilzer, who looks just as melancholy sitting over a bock beer here as he once did over red wine in Hamburg’s Kongo Bar in Razzia in St. Pauli (1932). For Zilzer and his colleagues, those German-accented roles provided a macabre niche. In Confessions, Zilzer plays an experienced Nazi who ends up being abducted, tortured and deported to Germany by his like-minded fellows. In 1982, Zilzer said, “I had no choice. Even if I wanted to play something else once in a while, it was what they expected from the start, because people thought, ‘but that’s the Nazi ...’”.
by Anatole Litvak
with Edward G. Robinson, Francis Lederer, George Sanders
USA 1939 104’