(1943)4Craig ButlerAlthough unashamedly propagandistic -- and to modern audiences, at least, sometimes didactic and preachy -- Watch on the Rhine, nonetheless, continues to stir and impress viewers. It's hard to deny charges that Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman's screenplay is melodramatic, or that the authors stack the deck in favor of their point -of-view, or that parts of the film belie its stage origins. However, these shortcomings also add to the ultimate impact of the movie, which carries the power of its convictions to the fullest. If the dialogue occasionally comes across as stilted, much more of it is compelling and moving; the various set piece speeches accorded the characters are filled with the kind of glorious turns of phrase and construction with which Hellman excelled. The movie also benefits from a superb cast. Top-billed Bette Davis is in rare form, turning in a finely nuanced performance that is more restrained than usual, yet still commanding. She makes the most of the opportunities given her in the script, particularly her final tug-at-the-heartstrings monologue. Even better is Paul Lukas, whose weariness is constantly at war with his dignity and his responsibility. He navigates the difficult transitions for his character with admirable ease, and creates a character that fully warrants the audience's depth of feeling. Lucile Watson is quite believable in her efforts to deny unpleasant truths as well as her willingness to fight once she comes to terms with reality, and George Coulouris is appropriately villainous. Despite its flaws, Rhine still packs an impressive wallop.