Rape Of The Third Reich aka England Made Me A story about an English businessman in 1930s Germany who encounters a financier who has forged his career on greed, corruption, and opportunism, rather than the traditional British principles of decency and fair play.
A poor Graham Greene novel made the best of on screen
Rape Of The Third Reich aka England Made Me This was one of Graham Greene’s early novels and certainly not his best one. It has actually the character of experimental improvisation, as if Graham Greene made an effort to write a modern novel with something like James Joyce in view. There is not much of a story, the composition of the novel being something like building up a sort of towering figure of the omnipotent business man Krogh, and the idea was actually inspired by the case of Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish multimillionaire who ended up in a suicide mystery. The whole novel takes place in Sweden.
The film has reasonably enough found it necessary to make something completely different. Instead of a grey and boring diffuse Sweden we find ourselves in Nazi Germany of 1935, when Hitler was still on the rise. Poor Michael York and the beautiful Hilldegard Neil, the chief character of the film, are a brother and sister somewhat at odds with reality, especially in Germany, where Hildegard nonetheless has found a regular position as Krogh’s intimate secretary. She brings her brother to Germany to help him along, where they all three (including Krogh, Peter Finch, reliable as usual,) gradually find themselves more and more alienated in the hostile and inhuman Nazi world.
There are some other main figures in the plot, Michael Hordern as a typically Greeneish antihero and shabby journalist on his way down with opportunism for his only comfort, and Tessa Wyatt as Liz, a girl Michael York finds to please himself with, since he can’t just stay with his sister. Then we have Joss Ackland as Haller, a kind of henchman of Krogh’s to pull some strings towards the end.
So much for the plot, which really isn’t much of a story, not even approaching the Kreuger mystery, concentrating instead on Michael York’s outsidership hopelessly prompting on honesty, but the main asset of the film is something completely different.
The settings are magnificent, with exotic nightclubs, luxury palaces, enjoyable excursions and things like that, the atmosphere and set-up is genuinely good, It’s a very beautiful film, but what makes this film worth while is the music by John Scott, the only thing that saves it. The actors are perfectly good but don’t help the meagre story, while only the music gives it some quality of importance.