There is peril for Robert Taylor from a number of sides at different times. Conrad Veidt provides some of it. Inquisitive Nazi political officers provide more. Norma Shearer is at times almost a threat. Bonita Granville is a busybody on the Nazi side who poses a threat. Robert Taylor himself at times can't hold his cool. Felix Bressart who doesn't always understand what's going on is another person who can upset the applecart. Give this 12/15.
Morally ambiguous characters 5 pts
This is not evident. There are differences in political philosophy on abundant display (rights of the individual vs. the state). These lead Taylor to make some moral judgments, but these differences are not what is meant by moral ambiguity.
Give this 0/5.
Alienated protagonist 5 pts
Taylor is naive about the situation and the Nazis at first. He's very frustrated by his inability to make headway against the bureaucracy. He places high hopes on Shearer, based on appearances. Does he ever abandon hope? No. Does he feel blocked by the system? Yes. Does he feel rejected by Shearer at times? Yes. He develops some alienation, I think. I have trouble with what this means. Give this 2/5.
A dupe or a fall guy 5 points
There is none, not in the classic hard-boiled sense that this element is meant to capture. Taylor is naive, to be sure. He gets the runaround.There is a crime here, politically-motivated, and it's being covered up. For this reason, I give this 1/5. I wouldn't argue with 2/5.
Violence relative to character development/interaction 10 pts
This category we are told covers "emotional" violence following upon physical violence. The main physical violence is the arrest and imprisonment of Taylor's mother (not shown), but her rough treatment is shown in a good scene at the beginning and she's scheduled for execution! Taylor gets very stirred up over this, naturally. I give this 7/10.
Characters trapped by past events 10 pts
Clearly we can't have a story without pasts of characters. This is a question of being trapped by some rather distant events, I believe. This is not what happens here. I give this 3/10, and this arises because his mother has a certain character and lives a certain way. This is what conflicts with the Nazis and she's trapped by it.
Degree of character triangulation 10 pts
Veidt, Taylor and Shearer form a triangle. Veidt becomes quite suspicious and jealous. This motivates his pressure on Taylor. This is pretty strong. Give it 7/10.
Total character elements: 33 points
Black-and-white cinematography 10 pts
Give this 10/10.
Low-angle shooting/expressionistic techniques 5 pts
Give this 1/5. Although there are some nicely-shadowed scenes, expressionist shooting is nor central or pervasive.
A sense of fatalism (either spoken or visual) 20 pts.
I would say it's more than Casablanca, say 13/20. Some scenes of entrapment stick out: the concentration camp; carrying the coffin; playing cards near the Nazi officers; being firmly bullied by Veidt.
Use of extreme mise-en-scene (claustrophobic/barren) 10 pts
Not really striking. Maybe 3/10.
Use of mise-en-scene to produce alienation 5 pts
Also, not really striking. 2/5.
Odd camera angles or visual effects/sequences 5 pts
I'd say 0/5.
An urban setting (and degree of emphasis upon) 10 pts
We're in the Bavarian Alps, so 0/10.
Barren and/or exotic location setting 5 pts
This is 5/5 because of the feeling that Taylor is trapped. There are high mountains, a border that requires passports, even a road blocked by a landslide or heavy snow.
Night club and/or gambling setting 5 pts
Not present: 0/5
Visual elements add up to 34.
Story/screenwriting elements come next.
A convoluted storyline 5 pts
Straightforward story mostly, but the character of Shearer is very interesting. So is that of Philip Dorn and some others. There are character actions that are unpredictable and depart from stereotypes because of the political pressures upon them. I give this 5/5.
Use of flashbacks 10 pts
There are none: 0/10.
A murder or a heist at the center of the story 5 pts
A betrayal or a double-cross 5 pts
Doesn't happen: 0/5
Story told from the perspective of the criminals 5 pts
Not at all: 0/5
False accusation or fear of same 5 pts
This comes in a fair amount for several characters. I'll go 3/5.
Sexual relationships with respect to plot development 10 pts
The attraction of Taylor and Veidt to Shearer and her reciprocal behavior is important to the suspense of this story. This rates 8/10.
A spoken narrative 5 pts
Hard-boiled dialogue/repartee 5 pts
There are some good reactions by Taylor when confronted with Nazi ideas and behavior. He shoots some good zingers right back at Veidt too. Taylor confronts Shearer too. It's not standard HB stuff, but it proxies for it. I'll go 3/5 even though Felix Bressart can undermine it with his shtick with Albert Basserman not far behind.
Bleakness of denouement 10 pts
Although the movie shows the situation well, it only implicitly suggests the imminence of a big war. Taylor escapes with his mom but luck plays a part as Veidt has a stroke or something. the ending is not as cogent or bleak as this element calls for. I'd say 1/10.
Total story elements: 20
Grand total: 87 points.
This is a likeable movie and one that's moving in the noir direction.