In the Hands of the Enemy
A story of a woman spy, her son and a firing squad draws its analogies from the world war; full of intense situations and graphic action. Just 15 months after the outbreak of war in Europe, it was still very early for an American film to be produced on the subject for release in isolationist U.S.A. Edwin Thanhouser had been in Europe at the outbreak and must have seen the dramatic potential, which he produced here as both an intimate and large scale story, taking no sides, set in fictional countries. The gripping story has very little melodramatic hokum. A countess and her son volunteer to disguise themselves and take a secret message across enemy territory. It begins as the personal mission of two people, but expands into relatively complicated cavalry and artillery battles (not the less picturesque trench warfare that was actually happening). The fluid editing and vastly more dramatic cinematography (especially the use of close shots for expressiveness and intimacy) are part of the extremely rapid advances in the artistry and technique of the film medium compared to just a year earlier.