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Billy Wilder's second American film (1943) is a crisp spy thriller, with Franchot Tone playing a British officer caught behind the lines in North Africa as Field Marshal Rommel (Erich von Stroheim) approaches. Wilder restricts the action to one set: the crumbling hotel where Tone finds refuge, and which Rommel commandeers as an outpost. Anne Baxter is there for sexual tension, and Akim Tamiroff contributes a very Wilder-esque bit as the benighted hotelier. Excellent apprentice work, with many Wilder themes seething beneath the surface. 96 min.

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