Candlelight in Algeria
|Candlelight in Algeria|
Original UK quad format poster
|Directed by||George King|
|Produced by||George King|
|Screenplay by||Katherine Strueby|
|Story by||Dorothy Hope|
|Music by||Roy Douglas|
|Edited by||Winifred Cooper|
British Aviation Pictures
|Distributed by||British Lion Film Corporation (United Kingdom)|
20th Century Fox (United States)
|85 minutes |
The story is loosely based on the secret conference in Cherchell, Algeria, in October 1942, between American General Mark W. Clark and a group of high-ranking French Vichy commanders, where they agreed not to resist the Operation Torch landings in Vichy France-controlled French North Africa a month later.
Ahead of the conference, British agent Alan Thurston (James Mason) has been assigned to travel to Algiers to recover a camera containing pictures that reveals where it will take place. He doesn't know anything about the meeting or what the pictures in the camera may reveal, but has been ordered to prevent the camera from reaching the Germans. He does know, however, that he is being shadowed by German spy Dr. Müller (Walter Rilla), who intends to steal the camera as soon as Thurston gets it. So how will he be able to get the camera without Müller discovering it?
Susan Foster (Carla Lehmann), an American sculptress living in Biskra, agrees to help Thurston. In Algiers, she steals the camera from the bedroom of collaborating nightclub singer Martiza (Enid Stamp-Taylor), but instead of handing over the camera to Thurston, she plans to take it to the American consulate. However, her opinion of Thurston quickly changes when he rescues her from the clutches of Müller. The duo takes cover in a kasbah with Thurston’s French friend Yvette (Pamela Stirling), and they develop the film there. Thurston recognises the place in the photos, so they make their way out of the kasbah and race to the meeting place to warn the Allied officers.
- James Mason as Alan Thurston
- Carla Lehmann as Susan Foster
- Raymond Lovell as von Alven
- Enid Stamp-Taylor as Maritza
- Walter Rilla as Dr. Müller
- Pamela Stirling as Yvette
- Lea Seidl as Sister
- Sybille Binder as Woman
- Hella Kürty as Maid
- Paul Bonifas as French Proprietor
- Leslie Bradley as Henri de Lange
- MacDonald Parke as American Host
- John Slater as American Officer
The film premiered at the Regal, Marble Arch in London on 18 February 1944, but the reviewer in The Times was somewhat disappointed: "Candlelight in Algeria is not the film it might have been with such a theme to inspire it; it shows itself aware of the possibilities, but fails to exploit them."
When the film opened at the Victoria Theater in New York City on 29 July 1944, The New York Times critic was somewhat more forgiving: "The British Lion production which came to the Victoria Saturday is, as a whole, well put together, and the acting, while not outstanding, is worthy of the film. Add to this the mysterious background of Algiers and a lot of international intrigue and the result is a generally entertaining picture."
According to trade papers, the film was a success at the British box office in 1944.
- The Times, 18 February 1944, page 6: Picture Theatres, Regal, Candlelight in Algeria Linked 2015-09-16
- BBFC: Candlelight in Algeria (1943): Submitted run time: 85m 26s Linked 2015-09-16
- The Times, 21 February 1944, page 8: New films in London - Regal. Candlelight in Algeria Linked 2015-09-16
- New York Times, 31 July 1944: Movie Review: Candlelight in Algeria Linked 2015-09-16
- Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p 207