Movie Review: Conspiracy of Hearts - (England, 1960)

Figure 1.--This scene from 'Conspiracy of Hearts' depicts an Italian soldier leading Jewish orphans into a detention camp. We know that German soldiers helped round of Jews. They were not the principal force in the killing actions, but played a mojor role in the logistics of the Holacaust, especially roundinhg up Jews. We are not sure to what extent the Iralian Army was involved as opposed to Fasvist para-military groups. There seems to be a Quonset hut in the background. hst seems more American than Italian or German.

Nuns help Jewish children escape from a NAZI internment camp located near their convent. It us set in 1943. Quite a gripping story set in Italy. The children wear historically correct period clothing. They come from camps and are scruffily dressed. In one scene children are being bathed and consoled. One nun goes to bathe a boy about 10. He complains, "You are a girl, I know you are." She tries to tell him that she is a nun and that it is alright, but he still refuses. "I can't bathe you with your trousers on," she tells him. "Yes you can." he replies. Finally she bribes him with chocolate. The boy is hesitant but finally agrees. The Germans who are depicted as Wehrmact and not SS ultimstely seize the convent as a transit camp. There is a scene in which a group of Jewish children"s leader is a young boy who follows his region to the letter. The nuns try to give the children a very special religios festival. This is tied into the awakening of the German authorities as to what the nuns were doing. The Nazis swoop. The German lieutenant and his sadistic colonel discover that the nuns had been taking in orphaned Jewish children and helping them evade arrest. The Germans order three of the nuns executed. The nuns help the children reach Palestine and safety. One assessment of the film reads, "The pathos of little children caught in the agony of war is always a solid staple of sentiment on the screen. It has been well and touchingly presented in any number of films. And it is offered again with deep compassion in 'Conspiracy of Hearts'. This assessment misses the mark historically. Jewish children were not 'caught in the agony of war'. Killing Jewish children was a ordinary German war goal. We are not sure if This is a feel-good story or has some historical basis, but does accurately illustrated the fact that many Catholic faithful and clerics helped save Jews during the War. The story first aired as an TV episode of 'Goodyear Playhouse' directed by Robert Mulligan (1956). There was a desite to make a film version, but the Rank organization which eventually produced it, initially flatly turned then down. Their view was, "It's religion, it's nuns, it's wartime, who wants to know?" The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding at the 18th Golden Globe Awards (1961).


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Created: 3:58 AM 5/13/2018
Last updated: 3:58 AM 5/13/2018