THEY DARE NOT LOVE. Columbia, 1941. George Brent, Martha Scott, Paul Lukas, Frank Reicher, Egon Brecher, Roman Bohnen, Peter Cushing, Lloyd Bridges. Director: James Whale (with Victor Fleming & Charles Vidor, both uncredited). Shown at Cinecon 39, Hollywood CA, Aug-Sept 2003.

   I was very pleased to find Whale’s last feature film on the program. George Brent is an Austrian aristocrat who leaves his country ahead of the Nazis. Living in London, he encounters Scott and comes into contact with Austrian emigres who make him realize he was wrong to betray his countrymen by fleeing.

   He meets with his old adversary, Nazi Paul Lukas, and works out an agreement that will exchange his freedom for some imprisoned Austrians. The agreement is a ruse, and as he and Scott set sail on what he believes to be a neutral Dutch ship, it mounts a German flag and he is a prisoner on his way to a certain death.

   Maltin lambasts the film for its silly script and unlikely casting of Brent as a “dashing” Austrian prince. Dashing he’s not, but in spite of the inadequacies of the script and the lack of the usual Whale flourishes, the film is competently directed.

   Reicher is good as the ship’s captain who’s finally willing to sacrifice himself (and probably his family) to thwart Lukas. Cushing and Bridges have small roles, but Cushing makes a dashing appearance as a British office who takes over the German ship and saves the day.

   Not a sad, but still a disappointing conclusion to a distinguished directing career.