Surrender. 1931. USA. Directed by William K. Howard. With Warner Baxter, Leila Hyams. 70 min.
William K. Howard’s ambitious antiwar drama from 1931 bears a curious resemblance to Jean Renoir’s La grande illusion, made six years later. Warner Baxter plays a French officer being held in a Prussian castle that has been converted into a prisoner-of-war camp. Ralph Bellamy, with his head shaved to a Stroheimian crop (he lobbied Fox for extra compensation for the haircut, and got it) is the man with whom Baxter has philosophical conversations, while both men compete for the attentions of the daughter of the castle, played by Leila Hyams. Howard again collaborated with cinematographer James Wong Howe on this film, made directly after their stylistic breakthrough Transatlantic; although the deep-focus effects are less pronounced here, they do include some amazing images captured on an indoor swamp set, constructed over two sound stages at the Fox studio. New 4K restoration from nitrate elements held by MoMA, funded by Twentieth Century Fox