Enemy of Women (1944)



Director:  Alfred Zeisler. 

Starring:  Claudia Drake (Maria Brandt), Wolfgang Zilzer (Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels), Donald Woods (Dr. Hans Traeger, MD), H.B. Warner (Colonel Eberhart Brandt), Sigrid Gurie (Magda Quandt), Ralph Morgan (Mr. Quandt), Gloria Stuart (Bertha), Robert Barrat (Wallburg the Publisher), Beryl Wallace (Jenny Hartmann), Byron Foulger (Krause, Brown Shirt), Lester Dorr (Hanussen the Medium), Crane Whitley (Hanke, Gobbels' Secretary), Charles Halton (Uncle Hugo, Radio Performer), Marin Sais (Frau Bendler).

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister


The Allies bomb Berlin.  Goebbel's apartment is hit and mostly destroyed.  Goebbels visits his destroyed building.  He sits down in his fancy chair, about the only thing not damaged when the bomb hit.

Flashback.  1925.  Joseph Goebbels is twenty-eight years old.  He takes a job as a tutor for a young boy named Harold.  Maria Brandt is the daughter of his landlady.  He tries to kiss her but she is able to push him over, which makes her laugh.  Her father Colonel Eberhart Brandt sees all this and throws Goebbels out of the house. 

Goebbels's  life is changed when he hears Hitler give a speech.  The thin man becomes enraptured with the hateful Hitler and bursts into applause when Hitler finishes his talk. 

1929.  The publisher Wallburg calls a meeting of his fellow publishers to warn them of Hitler and Goebbels.  He says that Germans are losing their freedoms.  But many of the publishers are not worried at all.  One says that Hitler and Goebbels will not even be around by 1939. 

Maria Brandt interviews with Goebbels who is now a very powerful man in Germany.  He encourages her to act and sets it up with producers and directors to  hire her.  In a performance on stage, she receives nine curtain calls.  Meanwhile Nazi thugs start shutting down radio broadcasts.

1933.  Hitler becomes the Chancellor of Germany.  Wallburg the publisher is arrested.  The fight is over for all free-thinking Germans. 

Goebbels becomes Reichsminister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment.  Now Goebbels has full control over the German entertainment industry and he fully intends to abuse that power. 

Maria meets her father's new tenant, the very charming Dr. Hans Traeger, MD.   She tells the good doctor that her father has lost his pension.  Goebbels says that Maria is now ready for stardom and with his pull she does rise to become a movie star.  Although Goebbels helps Maria, he is still angry at her father.  So he tells Himmler, the head of the Gestapo, to charge the Colonel with defaming Nazi leaders and put him on the list of those to be eliminated.  Gobbels is shocked, however, when he is told that he himself has been put on Himmler's hit list.  He is advised to travel with Hitler to avoid being assassinated.  Colonel Brandt, however, can't travel with Hitler and four Gestapo agents shoot him to death when they pay a visit to his home. 

Goebbels tries to console Maria.  He blames her father's death on Himmler, not himself.  Goebbels then tells Maria that he has always loved her:  "Let me be your friend".  But despite his implied threats, Maria rejects him.  After she leaves, he calls to have her movie contract with UFA studios canceled. 

Vienna, September 1937.  Maria is living in Vienna where she runs into Dr. Traeger again.  He asks her why she did not respond to any of his letters.  The reason is that she didn't write any letters to him.  Not discouraged, he gets Maria to agree to date.  But Dr. Traeger has to break a couple of dates because of medical emergencies.  Nevertheless, they finally get together and start a real relationship. 

A cloud hangs over Austria.  Germany is about to take over the country.  Maria talks about going to Switzerland.   (Maria and Dr. Traeger marry.)  The Germans take over the weak and powerless Austria.  Many "undesirables" are sent to concentration camps.  Maria decides to travel to Berlin to ask General Ulrich to intervene on behalf of her friend Levine to prevent his being sent to a Polish concentration camp.  But General Ulrich did not or could not stop the Gestapo.  When they came for Levine, however, he died of a heart attack. 

Maria applies for a return visa to Vienna, but Goebbels intervenes and tells his staff that she cannot leave Germany.  They even confiscate her passport.  She is very distraught, but is cheered when she discovers that her husband is in Berlin to surprise her with a fourth wedding anniversary celebration.  (It is now 1943.)  Goebbels works out a deal with Maria.  He says that he will insure the safety of her husband if she agrees to pretend that she is going to Switzerland with him, but then abandon him just before the train enters Switzerland.  She will then be brought back to Berlin.  To protect her husband, Maria agrees to the plan.

On the train to Switzerland ,Dr. Traeger asks Maria if she noticed the two Gestapo men hanging around their berth.  She dismisses the idea.  Near the Swiss border the Germans call the doctor out of his berth and while he is signing some official papers, the two Gestapo men take Maria off the train.

Maria is back in Berlin waiting in Himmer's apartment.  The Allies bomb Berlin and one of the bombs hits the very room in which Maria is standing. 

Back to the present.  Goebbels investigates his destroyed building.  He sits in his fancy chair, just about the only item to have escaped damage.  On the radio again, he tells the Germans that they will triumph.  The film comments that Goebbels may have been a good liar, but he proved to be a bad prophet. 


The movie was o.k.   The movies is an oldie and does not cost much on DVD, but it is in black and white and the picture is of only so-so quality.  But $5.00 isn't much, so I won't complain.  Goebbels was a terrible womanizer and abused his position to have sex with German actresses.  His wife was going to divorce him, but Hitler intervened and told them they must stay together.  (Mrs. Goebbels served as the unofficial first lady of Germany.)  In the Berlin bunker in the final days of Hitler, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide and took their six lovely and innocent children with them by having them also swallow cyanide.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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