The Condemned Of Altona

  • 1962
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

A many-starred muddle that tried to tell too much at one time and failed. However, the actors were so intent on doing their best, they all deserve a pat on the back. March is a Krupp-like character who owns a titanic industrial complex in Germany. He calls his son, Wagner, and Wagner's actress wife, Loren, to the family estate, Altona. Wagner is offered...read more

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A many-starred muddle that tried to tell too much at one time and failed. However, the actors were so intent on doing their best, they all deserve a pat on the back. March is a Krupp-like character who owns a titanic industrial complex in Germany. He calls his son, Wagner, and Wagner's

actress wife, Loren, to the family estate, Altona. Wagner is offered the family holdings but refuses. He is a lawyer with a sense of justice and knows how many lives have been lost through his dying father's efforts. Wagner is the second son and his late brother would have controlled the family

holdings had it not been for the fact that he was cited at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials and executed. Late at night, Loren hears screams in the huge house and decides to investigate. She then discovers Altona's secret: Wagner's brother is alive. Schell is insane and being tended to by sister,

Prevost, who tells Schell lies about how Germany has never recovered and poverty reigns over the land. Loren then tells him the truth and the confused Schell races to nearby Hamburg to find out which of the women is lying to him. Before he leaves, he tells Loren that the house was used as a

concentration camp during the war. She is disturbed by that and confronts Wagner, who has now changed his mind and will take over the company. Schell is arrested in Hamburg and brought back to Altona where he asks Loren for her forgiveness for all he has done. He tells her how he led his own

troops into a trap, rather than allow them to torture some Russian farmers. Loren believes him and attempts to comfort Schell, but sister Prevost worms the truth out of him; he was a killer and torturer several times over. Faced by his deep guilt, Schell commits suicide by leaping from scaffolding

and drags March with him. Sartre's original monologs are mostly retained by Mann and Zavattini and the movie's stage origins are betrayed by too much talk. The major problem here is that nobody, least of all the audience, cares about the guilt of some Germans. Here we have a family that has

recovered from the war and is now richer than ever. This family was responsible for many deaths and we are expected to care about such human scum? Never. Many brilliant creators were behind this mess, some of whom won recognition and awards for other works. In the case of THE CONDEMNED OF ALTONA,

nothing went right and reputations could have been shattered, save for the fact that the movie business gives someone at least five at-bats for strikeouts after they have hit one home run. Mann and Schell worked over some of the same material in JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG in 1961. They should have left

hell enough alone.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A many-starred muddle that tried to tell too much at one time and failed. However, the actors were so intent on doing their best, they all deserve a pat on the back. March is a Krupp-like character who owns a titanic industrial complex in Germany. He call… (more)

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