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1934, Park Circus, 105 min, UK, Dir: Lothar Mendes

This adaptation of Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Jew Süss was such a stinging indictment of the anti-Semitism then on the rise in Germany that the Nazis remade it in 1940, turning its hero into a villain to advance their propaganda. Hoping his influence can help Jews in the 18th-century ghetto of Württemberg, Josef “Jew Süss” Oppenheimer (Conrad Veidt, in one of his best performances) serves a duke whose corruption and lechery lead both men to ruin. Cedric Hardwicke costars as Süss’ guilty conscience, Rabbi Gabriel.

1936, BFI, 86 min, UK, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham, this espionage tale stars John Gielgud as Richard Ashenden, a British officer dispatched to Switzerland to kill a German spy. Sent to assist him on the mission are seasoned assassin (and scene-stealer) Peter Lorre and Madeleine Carroll, who is posing as Ashenden’s wife – which does little to stop suave Robert Young from chasing her. With several years of sound filmmaking under his belt, Hitchcock makes brilliant use of such audio effects as a sustained organ note and a dog’s howl.

1934, Park Circus, 75 min, UK, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Director Alfred Hitchcock’s first version of the thriller about a family of tourists drawn into international intrigue was one of the greatest successes of his pre-Hollywood career. Vacationing British couple Leslie Banks and Edna Best stumble onto an assassination plot; to ensure their cooperation, head killer Peter Lorre kidnaps their daughter. With a more charismatic villain and a climactic shootout (inspired by a real-life incident), this economical thriller is more sinister than Hitchcock’s 1956 remake.

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