WALKING WITH THE ENEMY – Review by Susan Granger

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The horrors of the Holocaust are recalled in this “inspired by a true story” about Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, who rescued thousands of Hungarian Jews during the final months of World War II by impersonating a German officer. The fictitious character based on Rosenbaum is called Ekel Cohen (Jonas Armstrong). In 1944, he’s a young, displaced Hungarian Jew, a rabbi’s son who is trying to find his family after escaping from a bombed labor camp. Read on…

Making his way to Budapest, which at that time was occupied by SS soldiers and members of a fascist, anti-Semitic, paramilitary extremist group called the Arrow Cross Party, Ekel joins a Resistance group near the Glass House, where a Swiss diplomat (William Hope) forges papers to help doomed Jews escape. When Ekel’s girl-friend Hannah (Hannah Tointon) is nearly raped in front of her family by two Nazi soldiers, he steals a uniform off one of the dead soldiers. To his amazement, Ekel discovers that simply by wearing the garb of a Gestapo officer and authoritatively shouting orders, he is able to redirect many of his countrymen who would have been en route to death-camps. Meanwhile, Hungary’s controversial regent, Miklos Horthy (Sir Ben Kingsley), is trying in vain to negotiate an armistice with Russia.

Unfortunately in their screen adaptation, writer Kenny Golde and director Mark Schmidt laboriously re-hash so many clichéd phrases and concepts that the inspirational effect of Ekel’s Aryan impersonation is diluted. As a result, what was brutal and compelling simply becomes maudlin melodrama.

Irish-born British actor Jonas Armstrong is perhaps best known for playing the title role in “Robin Hood” on the BBC, and he will soon be seen in “Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise. And if this period in 20th century history interests you, I highly recommend Agnieszka Holland’s “Europa Europa” (1990), also about a Jewish boy who pretended to be a part of Hitler’s Youth movement.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Walking With the Enemy” is a stirring 6 – but it’s a heavy-handed depiction of heroism.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.