From the S&S archives

Movie thriller shot in EC stars Gene Kelly, Pier Angeli

Hot drinks during cold-weather filming.


By NATHAN J. MARGOLIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 23, 1952

THE SCENE WAS TENSE and full of action.

Military Policemen chased a fear-crazed neo-Nazi gold smuggler into the ruins of Hitler's house at Berchtesgaden. They captured him and turned him over U.S, and German authorities. It was a high point in the motion picture "Devil Makes Three," now being filmed on location near Berchtesgaden, Salzburg and Munich.

The MPs — 30 of them — were members of the 508th MP Bn enlisted by MGM to perform in the film, which is taken from case histories in the files of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division.

They were chosen for merit from Cos A, B and C of the battalion. Being "in the movies" was a big thrill, they said after the shooting was over.

Director Andrew Marton of MGM was pleased with their performance, too. He said they followed directions as well as any Hollywood stars.

The film deals with a U.S. Air Force pilot, played by actor Gene Kelly, who returns to Germany after World War II to visit a family which aided in his escape from a prisoner-of-war camp. He finds one of the family still alive, a 19-year-old girl. The girl in the picture is the new Italian actress, Pier Angeli. "We even were under contract," explained one burly soldier, "just like Kelly and Miss Angeli."

"There was a big difference though," said 1st Lt Theodore H. Schofield, who was CO of the MP acting unit and a fellow thespian. "We didn't get paid. We did it for the good of the MP Corps."

"The idea," said a sergeant, "is that it helps people realize that we are not just a bunch of muscle-bound toughies trying to make things difficult for everybody. This picture shows us doing a routine, if unusual, military police job."

"But the chase was the main thing," echoed a private first class. "The rest of the show is a pretty good movie, too," the eager MP continued.

The original story, upon which the script was based, was written by Larry Bachman, who worked in the U.S. Zone for HICOG in 1949. Its original title was "Autobahn," because it takes place along the Munich-Salzburg autobahn.

At the climax of the story, when the villain is chased into Hitler's house, he is pinned down with rifle fire while the MPs sneak up on him. When he is captured he is on the sill of the famous big window in Hitler's room which looks out over Austria, out of ammunition.

The villain is Hans Klausner, a leading German film star. Only a skeleton crew was brought to Europe from Hollywood. Marton is relying chiefly on German actors and crews from German studios. Much of the equipment also has been rented from German film producers.

In the story, Miss Angela becomes involved in a smuggling ring, of which Klausner is the leader. Kelly's mission, after learning that his German friends have been killed and the girl is in trouble, is to bring about the arrest of the ring leader and save Miss Angeli.

Outwardly, the ring operates as a motorcycle club. In an attempt to smuggle hidden Nazi gold out of Germany, the ring places the gold under the fenders of a car, and Min Angeli gets the unsuspecting Kelly to drive her to Salzburg in it.

For the scene in which the ring leader is arrested Marton needed a crowd of curious spectators. So he publicized a motorcycle race on the ice at Hintersee. Citizens from nearby towns were offered free transportation to the scene.

More than 3,000 persons turned out. The spectators were not aware that the picture was being filmed. Marton got the desired effects when MP vehicles, sirens screaming, broke into the crowd to make the arrest.

Pier Angeli strikes a winter pose for the photographer.

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