Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Adapted from the best-selling novel by Arthur Guy Empey, Over the Top got off to a rousing start with a vivid re-creation of the Lusitania sinking. Appalled by this example of German brutality, retired American Marine sergeant James Garrison Owen (Arthur Guy Empey) signs up with the British army. While doing his military duty on the battlefields of France, Owen becomes enmeshed in the activities of German spy Frederich von Emden (Arthur Donaldson). Seemingly motivated as much by his libido as by Prussian militarism, Von Emden contrives to kidnap heroine Helen Lloyd (Lois Meredith), who of course is Owen's sweetheart. Escaping by submarine and airplane, the villain is at last thwarted by Owen, who appears to be the only member of the British forces who is able to walk and chew gum at the same time. There's a lot more to the plotline, including an attempted poisoning, a coward who makes good, and a collection of reasonably exciting battle scenes, but like many another wartime picture, Over the Top suggests that the primary reason that Germany inaugurated WWI was to despoil the female population of Europe. There was also a pointed barb at the American pacifism movement, as represented by a pompous character named "Folly," a thinly disguised caricature of Wisconsin's anti-war Senator LaFollette.