Read Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman Free Online
Book Title: Watch on the Rhine|
The author of the book: Lillian Hellman
Edition: Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
Date of issue: 1971
ISBN 13: 9780822212232
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 23.82 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.5
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WATCH ON THE RHINE. (1941). Lillian Hellmann. ****.
All the action of this drama is set in the Farrelly country house, located about twenty miles from Washington, D.C. The house is the residence of Fanny and David Farrelly. Fanny is David’s mother and rules the roost. Her husband, whose portrait is up on the wall, has been dead for some time, but was obviously successful as an attorney and reasonably well off. They have house guests: Teck and Marthe De Brancovis. Marthe is a long-time friend of the family, and her husband was formerly connected to the Romanian Embassy in some European country. Theirs is obviously not a happy marriage. They are guests of Mrs. Farrelly, and have been living in the house for about six weeks. Teck gets a lot of mail – all bills or dunning letters for past due payments. The fact is that they are broke and are sponging off of Mrs. Farrelly. David is also an attorney, like his father before him, and is about mid-forties of age. He is single, but Marthe has been letting him know, subtly, that she is attracted to him. Fanny and David are expecting Sara and her family to arrive for a visit. Sara is Fanny’s daughter (David’s younger sister), and hasn’t been home for nearly twenty years. She is bringing her husband, Kurt Mueller, and her three children, Joshua, Bodo, and Babette. They have been living abroad since their marriage, with Kurt travelling a lot. This is the first time that Fanny and David have met the grandchildren. They soon learn that Sara and her family are poor. Kurt’s “job” is to support the anti-Nazi movement throughout Europe, including clandestine activities. That doesn’t bother either Fanny or David. When the Muellers meet Teck and his wife, visible sparks begin to fly. It is obvious that Teck is a supporter of the Nazi regime and immediately begins scheming against Kurt. Kurt is pretty cool throughout the whole series of conversations, but he can see that Teck is up to something. The something ultimately is disclosed as the play progresses, and involves Teck blackmailing Kurt in exchange for not turning him in to the local German Embassy personnel. The play moves on to a series of vivid conversations where each of the protagonists supports his beliefs. The play is obviously political, and as pro-freedom, anti-Nazi as you can get. Saying this, I can also assure you that the play is not preachy, but carefully outlines differences in the goals of the two men. This drama was very popular at the time, and was later made into a film whose screenplay was written by Dashiel Hammett, and released in 1943. Bette Davis played the role of Sara, while Paul Lukas took the part of Kurt. Lukas was later awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film itself was nominated for Best Picture, but did not win. There is a recorded interview of Bette Davis on the Dick Cavett Show that can be found on YouTube. During that interview, the comment was made that the character of Kurt was based on a real life person. The other interesting piece of information that I found out was that the title of the film was taken from that of a favorite song sung by German soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. You can hear the song in the movie, “Casablanca,” when all of the characters are together in Rick’s Bar along with a group of German soldiers. Unfortunately – on purpose – the song is drowned out by the singing of “The Marseillaise.” Recommended.
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Read information about the authorLillian Florence "Lilly" Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American dramatist and screenwriter famously blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) at the height of the anti-communist campaigns of 1947–52.
Hellman was praised for sacrificing her career by refusing to answer questions by HUAC; but her denial that she had ever belonged to the Communist Party was easily disproved, and her veracity was doubted by many, including war correspondent Martha Gellhorn and literary critic Mary McCarthy.
She adapted her semi-autobiographical play The Little Foxes into a screenplay which received an Academy Award nomination in 1942.
Hellman was romantically involved with fellow writer and political activist Dashiell Hammett for thirty years until his death.
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