This week’s mystery movie was the 1958 Universal picture A Time to Love and a Time to Die, with John Gavin, Lilo Pulver, Jock Mahoney, Don DeFore, Kennan Wynn, Erich Maria Remarque, Dieter Borsche, Barbara Rutting, Thayer David, Charles Regnier, Dorothea Wieck, Kurt Meisel, Agnes Windeck, Clancy Cooper, John Van Dreelen, Klaus Kinski, Alice Treff, Alexander Engel, Dana J. Hutton, Bengt Lindstrom, Wolf Harnisch, Karl-Ludwig Lindt and Lisa Helwig.
Photographed by Russell Metty. Eastman Color by Pathe.
Art direction by Alexander Golitzen and Alfred Sweeney. Set decorations by Russell A. Gausman. Sound by Leslie I. Carey and Vernon Kramer.
Unit production manager Norman W. Deming. Assistant to Mr. Deming, Heinz Gotze.
Military technical advisor, Capt. Herman Ulbricht, West German army.
Edited by Ted J. Kent. Gowns by Bill Thomas. Makeup by Bud Westmore.
Assistant directors Joseph E. Kenny and Dr. Michael Braun. Special photography by Clifford Stine.
Music by Miklos Rozsa.
Produced by Robert Arthur.
Directed by Douglas Sirk.
A Time to Love and a Time to Die is available on DVD from Amazon.
More on the history of the film is available from the AFI catalog.
I chose this movie based on Lou Lumenick’s comment on Twitter that a rights issue prevents TCM from streaming the film. It’s an odd picture in several ways, one of them being a cast of American actors portraying Nazis, with no attempt to be anything other than Americans. Keenan Wynn and Don DeFore are perhaps the most unlikely Nazis imaginable, and Dana (Jim) Hutton and John Gavin aren’t much better. The themes are generally the same as All Quiet on the Western Front, (the disillusioned young soldier, the realities of war vs. the perception of the war “at home,” a visit to a beloved professor, etc.) but updated to World War II.
Bosley Crowther, of course, hated the film, writing in The New York Times (July 10, 1958):
Gen. William T. Sherman’s famous comment on the fundamental nature of war is illustrated to the point of downright tedium in A Time to Love and a Time to Die. For more than two hours, this somber drama, taken from a novel by Erich Maria Remarque and put on display at the Mayfair and Little Carnegie yesterday, goes through a labored explanation of how a young Nazi soldier, home on leave, makes love to and marries a nubile maiden amid the exploding clutter of a German city in 1944. Then, after getting with the new wife settled with a nice old lady and also with child, it takes the young husband back to the front in Russia. And there gets him ironically killed.
That’s all there is in this long picture — just an account of how two youngsters fall in love, despite air raids, food rationing, gauleiters and the fact that they don’t know where or how their parents are. no theme is solidly stated, no philosophical comment is implied — other than the obvious one of General Sherman, and that’s what nice Germans went through in World War II.
For Monday, we have a mystery gentleman.
Update: This is the author, Erich Maria Remarque.
For Tuesday, we have some mystery soldiers.
Update: This is Wolf Harnisch (no relation, alas), right. Also Dieter Borsche, center.
Gary: Wrong decade, but you’re warm.
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery fellow.
Update: This is Thayer David. His companion, who has a small role with a few lines, remains unidentified.
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this mysterious gent.
Update: This is Keenan Wynn as the most improbable Nazi I have ever seen, except for …
We also have this mystery fellow. His companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear Friday.
Updated: For Friday, adding our mysterious leading man.
Update: … Don DeFore. Also John Gavin.
Brain Trust roll call: Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests) Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Beach Gal (mystery movie and all mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), Anne Papineau (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery author and Wednesday’s mysterious Nazi), Megan and Thom (mystery movie, Monday’s mysterious author, Tuesday’s mystery officer and Wednesday’s mystery gents), Roget-L.A. (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mysterious Nazi and mysterious fräulein).
For Friday, we have this mystery soldier.
Update: This is Dana (Jim) Hutton.
Also for Friday, we have this mystery couple.
Update: This is Lilo (Liselotte) Pulver and John Gavin.
Brain Trust roll call: Benito (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery gents), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests and Back of the Head Soldier), Tucson Barbara (Monday’s mystery author and Thursday’s mystery fellows), Beach Gal (Thursday’s mystery fellows and Leading Man Cropped Out for Lack of Mysteriousness), Anne Papineau (Thursday’s mystery fellows), Incredibleinman (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery fellows) and Sylvia E. (mystery movie and mystery cast).