Nazi Agent (1942): Jules Dassin’s Feature Directing Debut, Starring Conrad Veidt in Dual Role

Jules Dassin made his feature directorial debut with Nazi Agent, a spy melodrama, which was one of the successful films produced by Dore Schary as head of production at MGM’s “B” unit.
Nazi Agent
Nazi Agent FilmPoster.jpeg

This timely, suspenseful tale, penned by Paul Gangelin and John Meehan, Jr., based on an idea by Lother Mendes, contrasts national loyalty with blood relationships.
Mostly known for playing secondary, villainous roles, Conrad Veidt (“Casablanca”) is here center stage. Playing a dual role, Veidt portrays both a loyal German-born American and his twin, a Nazi official who forces sibling into aiding a group of German spies.
By necessity, the good brother kills his evil one, and then impersonates him in order to get secrets about the spies and their dangerous operation.
The U.S. has not yet entered World War II when kindly stamp dealer Otto Becker (Veidt) is unexpectedly visited by his twin brother, Baron Hugo von Detner, the new German consul to the U.S. and a leader of a spy ring engaged in sabotage. The brothers have not seen each other in years, but von Detner wants to use Becker’s shop to transmit and receive secret messages. Becker refuses, until von Detner threatens to have him deported back to Germany as illegal immigrant and reveals that Becker’s assistant, Miss Harper (Dorothy Tree), is actually a German agent.
Dassin would excel later in the decade in directing some excellent noir film (“Brute Force.” “Night and City”), before he was blacklisted during McCarthy’s political witch-hunting, and forced into exile into France.
Directed by Jules Dassin
Produced by Irving Asher
Written by Paul Gangelin, John Meehan Jr., Lothar MendesMusic by David Snell
Cinematography Harry Stradling Sr.
Edited by Frank E. HullProduction company: Metro-Goldwyn-MayerDistributed by Loew’s Inc.Release date: January 21, 1942Running time: 83 minutes

Conrad Veidt as Otto Becker/Baron Hugo von Detner
Ann Ayars as Kaaren De Relle
Frank Reicher as Fritz
Dorothy Tree as Miss Harper
Ivan F. Simpson as Professor Sterling
Martin Kosleck as Kurt Richten
Marc Lawrence as Joe Aiello
Sidney Blackmer as Arnold Milbar
Moroni Olsen as Brenner
Pierre Watkin as Grover McHenry