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The Conspirators Reviews

In flavor and storyline this film attempts to cash in on the success of CASABLANCA, but has little, save for the cast, to match that classic. Henreid is a resistance leader escaped from Holland and known as "The Flying Dutchman." He meets Lamarr in Lisbon, along with Lorre, Greenstreet, and other anti-Nazi underground workers. Greenstreet warns Henreid that Lamarr might be a traitor; she is married to Francen, a high-ranking official at the German legation. When one of the group's agents, Blue, is killed, Henreid is arrested and charged with murder in an obvious frame-up. Henreid manages to escape and is hidden by Greenstreet after proving his innocence. Greenstreet then tells him that Francen is no Nazi but one of their best agents. Skeptical of Francen's loyalties, Henreid suggests a plan where Blue's real killer can be detected. He and Greenstreet inform the conspirators that another man will take Blue's place on a secret mission and they will all meet him in a hotel, room 865. The traitor is later discovered to be double-agent Francen who tries to inform the Nazis by playing that number at roulette. Confronted by the underground workers, Francen flees but Henreid shoots him to death, then takes on the secret mission, leaving in a little fishing boat to sail to occupied France. It is clear that Lamarr will be waiting for him if he survives the hazardous job. THE CONSPIRATORS, despite its lavish settings and perfect mood camerawork by Edeson, failed to generate any intensity from the cast. Director Negulesco, who had pumped so much spirit into THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS, constructed a film where all the important moves appear false. Many of the scenes are preposterous and the relationship between Henreid and Lamarr is so forced that at the end they seem like strangers pretending affection for each other. Lamarr is lovely to look at in stunning Leah Rhodes gowns and Grot's marvelous sets are impressive, particularly the Cafe Imperium, the Estoril gaming casino, and the twisting, cobblestone streets of Lisbon, but the whole thing is empty and meaningless, except for the scenes in which Greenstreet and Lorre appear. Even Frederic Prokosch, the author of the novel upon which the film is based, took exception to the production, writing a savage critique of it in the New Republic. However, Lamarr, on loan from MGM to Warners, thought THE CONSPIRATORS was a good property and personally chose her role. Her laconic, almost indifferent posturing in the film undoubtedly had much to do with the fact that she discovered she was pregnant during the early stages of production. Critically, few reviewers agreed with Lamarr, but the public made the film a success so her commercial instincts were correct.