William Dieterle

Sog.: dal racconto Auf Wiedersehen di Morton Gordon e Morris Barteaux. Scen.: Bradley King. F.: John F. Seitz. M.: Ralph Dixon. Scgf.: William Darling. Int.: Warner Baxter (Paul Onslow), Miriam Jordan (Valerie von Sturm), Irene Ware (la prostituta), Beryl Mercer (la vedova), John Boles (Karl Kranz), George Marion Sr. (prof. Otto Bauer), Halliwell Hobbes (barone Emil von Sturm), Edward McWade (Ivan), John Davidson (Kellner). Prod.: Fox Film Corporation 35mm. D.: 78’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Assassinated by unknown agents on the day of a crucial vote at an international trade conference, a diplomat (Warner Baxter) is brought back to life by a renegade scientist – but only for six hours, during which he must find his killer, say farewell to his fiancée (Miriam Jordan), donate his fortune to a repentant prostitute (Irene Ware), comfort a grieving mother (Beryl Mercer) with intimations of the world beyond, and cast a courageous vote in favor of world peace. One of the most striking of several pacifist films produced by the Hollywood studios in the early 30s, 6 Hours to Live evokes the 1932 World Disarmament Conference held by the League of Nations, which aimed, in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “to wholly eliminate from possession and use the weapons which make possible a successful attack”. Although the conference (which was still in the headlines when the film was released on October 16, 1932) was largely directed at the fear of German rearmament, the film itself is another example of Fox Film’s Germanic affinity and was one of three Fox features directed by Weimar veteran and erstwhile Murnau actor William Dieterle, before he settled down at Warner Bros. for a long-term contract. Here, he works with cinematographer John F. Seitz to imbue the film with a dense chiaroscuro and an eerie, other-worldly atmosphere, anticipating the brooding mysticism of such later Dieterle films as All That Money Can Buy (1941) and Portrait of Jennie (1949). Although star Warner Baxter is largely forgotten today (perhaps because so many of his films went up in the Fox vault fire), he was one of Fox Film’s most popular performers, and had won the second Academy Award for Best Actor in 1930 for In Old Arizona.

Dave Kehr

Copy From

35mm preservation copy by MoMA with funding provided by 20th Century Fox and Turner Classic Movies