Rendezvous (1935 film)
|Directed by||William K. Howard
Sam Wood (uncredited)
|Produced by||William K. Howard
|Written by||Herbert O. Yardley (book)
P. J. Wolfson
|Music by||William Axt|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels
James Wong Howe
|Editing by||Hugh Wynn|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)|
|Release date(s)||October 24, 1935|
|Running time||94 minutes|
Rendezvous is a 1935 spy film set in World War I, starring William Powell as an American cryptologist who tangles with German spies. The film was based on The American Black Chamber, the controversial memoirs of Herbert Yardley, founder and head of MI8.
In 1917, former newspaperman William Gordon (William Powell) enlists in the U.S. Army. The day before he is to leave Washington, D.C. for the fighting in Europe, he meets socialite Joel Carter (Rosalind Russell). The couple spend the day together. He tells her that, because he once wrote a book on cryptography under a pen name, the army is searching for him to put him to work behind a desk, but he is eager to fight the Germans.
The next day, just before he boards his train, Lieutenant Gordon is ordered to report to John Carter (Samuel S. Hinds), the Assistant Secretary of War. He reassigns the unhappy Gordon to Major William Brennan (Lionel Atwill) to spend the war decoding German transmissions. He learns that Joel had revealed his secret to her uncle, John Carter, in order to keep him around.
The U.S. is preparing to send its army across the Atlantic Ocean, but there are grave worries about the U-boat threat. Brennan comes up with the idea to have British escorts meet American transports before they enter the most dangerous zone. For maximum security, the rendezvous point is to be transmitted in code to the ships the day before. An ammunition ship is sent first to test the new system. Unbeknownst to the Americans, a German spy ring in the city has already cracked their code and deliberately allowed the ship through in order to lure more valuable troop transports into their trap. However, when Gordon manages to decipher one of their messages, he realizes the truth and alerts his superiors.
Brennan suspects his supposedly unbreakable code was stolen by his mistress, Olivia Karloff (Binnie Barnes), and sets a trap. He catches her red-handed, but foolishly he is alone, and she shoots him dead. To her dismay, she is ordered to sacrifice herself to divert suspicion from the spy ring. When she attends Brennan's funeral, Gordon has her brought in for questioning. Carter sees her enter Gordon's office and becomes very jealous. Gordon lets Karloff go free so that she might lead him to the rest of the spies.
The Germans decide to betray one of their own men, Captain Nicholas Nieterstein (Cesar Romero), in order to reassure the Americans and get them to resume operations. When he is arrested at the Russian Embassy, Nieterstein apologizes to Ambassador Gregory (Henry Stephenson) for giving his loyalty to his mother's country before flinging himself through a window to his death.
Afterward, Gordon escorts a shaken Karloff back to her hotel, where he discovers her guilt. However, since the hotel is staffed by German agents, he is the one who is captured. He refuses to divulge the new American code until they show him that Carter is also a prisoner; she had followed the pair to the hotel. He then gives in and provides the coordinates of the new rendezvous point. When the Germans transmit the information, it is decoded by the Americans. The latitude and longitude that Gordon had given are actually the address of the hotel. Gordon and Carter (still believing that Gordon had his men confine her as a joke) are rescued. They get married.
- William Powell as Lieutenant William Gordon
- Rosalind Russell as Joel Carter
- Binnie Barnes as Olivia Karloff
- Lionel Atwill as Major William Brennan
- Cesar Romero as Captain Nicholas Nieterstein
- Samuel S. Hinds as John Carter
- Henry Stephenson as Russian Ambassador Gregory
- Frank Reicher as Dr. R.A. Jackson, a west coast German spy who couriers information across the border to Mexico
- Charley Grapewin as Professor Martin, an American researcher who is killed by the Germans when he discovers too much
- Leonard Mudie as Roberts
- Howard C. Hickman as G-man
- Charles Trowbridge as Secretary of War Baker
- Murray Kinnell as De Segroff
- Margaret Dumont as Mrs. Hendricks (uncredited)
- Mickey Rooney as Country Boy (uncredited)