13 Rue Madeleine

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13 Rue Madeleine
13 rue madeleine poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byHenry Hathaway
Produced byLouis De Rochemont
Written byJohn Monks, Jr.
Sy Bartlett
StarringJames Cagney
Richard Conte
Narrated byReed Hadley
Music byDavid Buttolph
CinematographyNorbert Brodine
Edited byHarmon Jones
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • January 15, 1947 (1947-01-15)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,750,000 (US rentals)[1]

13 Rue Madeleine is a 1947 World War II spy film directed by Henry Hathaway and starring James Cagney, Annabella, and Richard Conte. The title refers to the Le Havre address where a Gestapo headquarters was located.


Bob Sharkey (Cagney) is an instructor of the 77th group of espionage agent candidates to be trained in the United States to infiltrate Nazi-occupied Europe. He is alerted that one of the students is a German agent and told to identify him or her. Sharkey is able to determine that the enemy agent is "Bill O'Connell" (Conte), who performs too well when he succeeds in a field problem designed to cause the novices to make mistakes. Sharkey's boss, Charles Gibson (Walter Abel), confirms that O'Connell is really Wilhelm Kuncel, one of Germany's top agents, but tells Sharkey to pass him, as they know Kuncel's mission is to determine the date and location of the planned Allied invasion of Europe. They intend to provide Kuncel with false information to pass along to his superiors.

After they complete their training and are sent to Great Britain, three of the new "O77" agents—Frenchwoman Suzanne de Beaumont (Annabella), American Jeff Lassiter (Frank Latimore), and Kuncel—are sent on missions into German-occupied France. Kuncel is briefed on a fictitious invasion of Europe through Holland, but at the last minute, he asks Gibson to send Lassiter with him. Lassiter has been briefed on a different mission—to locate the factory depot for V-2 rockets that will be used against the Allied invasion ports, with Suzanne as his radio operator. Sharkey tells him about Kuncel and assigns him to accompany Kuncel into Holland, but then to continue on his own mission. If Kuncel tries to follow Lassiter instead of completing his own mission, Lassiter is to kill him. However, Lassiter's uneasiness apparently alerts Kuncel. When the trio parachutes into Holland, Lassiter's parachute fails to open, and he plummets to his death. The jumpmaster (Karl Malden) of the B-24 Liberator transporting the group discovers that the strap to Lassiter's static line was deliberately cut. Gibson and Sharkey realize that Kuncel knows that the information he was given is false and that he can identify every agent with whom he trained.

With no time to brief another agent to be Lassiter's replacement, Sharkey volunteers. Gibson protests that Sharkey knows the date and location of the invasion, but reluctantly agrees. With the help of the local French resistance led by the town's mayor (Sam Jaffe) and his driver (E. G. Marshall), Sharkey completes his mission, apprehending the collaborator who designed the V-2 depot and returning him to Great Britain. However, while intercepting Kuncel as he tries to stop the pickup airplane from taking off, Sharkey is captured. Suzanne is killed while transmitting the news to England. The Gestapo torture Sharkey, but he refuses to reveal his knowledge. Back in Great Britain, Gibson has no choice but to order a bombing raid to destroy the Gestapo headquarters and kill Sharkey before he cracks. As the bombs strike, Sharkey realizes what is happening and laughs in Kuncel's face just before they both perish.



Prohibited from mentioning the OSS during the war due to secrecy, several Hollywood studios made their own films about the agency after the war, such as Paramount's O.S.S., Warner Bros./United States Pictures Cloak and Dagger, and RKO/Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious. Though 13 Rue Madeleine was originally written to showcase the O.S.S., with Cagney playing a character based on William Donovan and featuring Peter Ortiz as a technical advisor, Donovan raised major objections to the film, including the idea that his agency had been infiltrated by an enemy agent.[2] The spy group was renamed "O77" and Cagney's character had no similarities to Donovan.

The film followed Fox's The House on 92nd Street, a true story of Federal Bureau of Investigation counter espionage, which shared the same director, producer, and one of the writers.

Much of the filming was done in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The scene where Sharkey is leaving the "local French HQ", on his way to meet with the local resistance was shot on rue Donnacona, with the Ursulines School in the background.

The Breen Office also objected to the Americans bombing a building solely to kill Sharkey; the film made reference to Gestapo headquarters being an acceptable military target.[2]


  1. ^ "Top Grossers of 1947", Variety, 7 January 1948 p 63
  2. ^ a b p.120 Dick, Bernard F. The Star Spangled Screen University of Kentucky Press

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