The Bitter Nazi
Following the end of WWII Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox) finds himself in a Warsaw court where with other Nazis he is on trial as a war criminal. But Wilhelm's story starts long before WWII when after WWI he returned home to the Polish village he left four year earlier having lost a leg in battle. Having taken up his old position as school teacher it is clear to many he is a changed man, bitter from what happened and when that bitterness leads to Marja Pacierkowski (Marsha Hunt) postponing their wedding it makes him even bitterer. When he is accused of raping a girl from his class who then takes her own life he decides to return to Germany where with the onset of the Second World War he joins the Nazis and rises to the rank of Reich Commissioner much to the dismay of his brother. It leads Wilhelm back to the Polish village where still bitter for what happened in the past sends Marja's daughter to work in a brothel used by German soldiers despite his own nephew being sweet on her. When the young girl commits suicide it leads to Wilhelm's nephew turning against the Nazis and the even more crazed Wilhelm turning on him.
"None Shall Escape" is one of those movies which you will probably only watch once because it is a grim tale but it is such a well made movie that if it wasn't so grim you would watch it again and again. And that well made bit starts with despite this being made whilst WWII was still going on the writers predicted that post war Nazis would be tried for their war crimes. Now considering the war was still going on we have the cleverness to show those war crimes through a personal story of a single bitter man who let his bitterness control him and making him evil.
Now I will admit that the synopsis I gave for "None Shall Escape" is longer and more detailed than I would normally write but in many ways it needed to be to show the way this clever movie evolves. We see how the first war made Wilhelm a bitter man and he became more bitter by the way things panned out when he returned to the village and had to contend with Marja calling off their wedding just 3 days before because he had changed. And so it goes on as we learn his inner turmoil festers and when he works his way up in to a position of power he uses that to punish those who hurt him. But whilst it is personal it is also symbolic of the cruelty which Polish Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War.
But that is not it because as "None Shall Escape" plays out we witness Wilhelm's story through his trial and flashbacks via those called to testify and at the end of each piece of Wilhelm's story which establishes something such as in the first section where he is accused of raping a young girl, causing her death we have his response which turns things around as he shows it was never proved he raped the girl. It makes "None Shall Escape" more than just a look at the life of a bitter Nazi it gives it a thriller aspect as in will he prove he isn't guilty of certain crimes.
And I am not finished yet as the direction and cinematography is first rate as "None Shall Escape" crams so much story in but keeps it moving so it never becomes heavy and always easy to follow. It also delivers beautifully crafted shots with some such as a staircase shot which is highly reminiscent of Hitchcock. Plus of course there is the acting and whilst Alexander Knox may get second billing it is a brilliant lead performance as an icy man full of bitterness and vile. There is also Marsha Hunt as Marja who gives "None Shall Escape" a romantic slant and works well with Knox despite the movie keeping them apart for much of the movie.
And here is the kicker, I have written more than I normally would about this sort of movie and given more away that I like to but I have no where near spoiled "None Shall Escape" as there is so much more going on such as Wilhelm's relationship with his brother.
What this all boils down to is that "None Shall Escape" is one of those movies which is exceptionally well made, wonderfully written and brilliantly acted and much better than most of the propaganda movies which were being made during WWII. But it is a grim storyline and hard to watch because of what we witness, so hard that despite being a very good movie you won't feel like you will want to watch it again.