The House on 92nd Street (1945)


The House on 92nd Street (1945)Yet another classic thriller that celebrates the wartime efforts of the F.B.I. as it stops a German attack on the home front of America. Henry Hathaway casts a group of unknown actors into a film that is mainly documentary reconstruction, before turning into a thriller that has your attention.

The House on 92nd Street (1945) is a slow burner that celebrates the F.B.I. as it keeps is secrets under-wraps even as WWII is still waging on against the Japanese at least, as Germany had already surrendered. The film acts more as propaganda as the government are preparing to drop the atom bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki the next year. If a cast of well-known actors were cast we would lose sight (apparently) of the efforts made by the agents and double agents working to protect the nation. Which did use some of the people actually involved in Operation Christopher that sees double agent Bill Dietrich (William Eythe) who positions himself into the undercover German operations working with America. Who have been sending top-secret information regarding the Atom Bomb that has yet to be completed before America even enters the war. Told just as it’s about to be dropped, one of their biggest secrets (and shames) is about to be revealed.

What makes this film stand-out from the others that celebrate the bureau is the extensive access given to the film-makers to the ultra secretive organisation, we see the technology they have on offer at the time. Now very much dated it shows the rare openness given to 20th Century Fox. Something most films have to create on a sound stage which is sometimes more exciting.

Its more a piece of carefully constructed propaganda to celebrate early war efforts than anything. Ignoring the now dated narration the espionage between the German spies is the most entertaining, not knowing who Dietrich really is until it’s too late, that’s what makes this picture work.

I can not think of a British equivalent in this genre of film. We don’t celebrate our secret services in the quite the same way, they are there in the background, both M.I.5. and M.I.6. doing their best to protect. The nearest we get is that one special agent. It’s an American thing that doesn’t really translate as well across the pond, seeing it more a over-the-top and self-indulgent, It’s a culture clash we’ll never overcome really. The Americans have to invest their pride in their present far more than their past, having only 250 years of it, compared to our centuries. I can’t help but boast while stating the fact I am proud of my countries long and rich past. I suppose overtime the history they have made more recently will still be romanticized, just not in the same way.

 

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