Margin for Error
is a 1943 film made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Otto Preminger
. The film stars Joan Bennett
, Milton Berle
and Otto Preminger. The screenplay was written by Lillie Hayward
and Samuel Fuller
, based on 1939 play by Clare Boothe Luce
It is a toss-up as to who is most displeased when Patrolman Moe Finkelstein (Milton Berle) is given the duty of guarding the German consulate ran by Karl Baumer (Otto Preminger); neither Moe nor Baumer are too happy with this turn of events. Moe, however, quickly becomes friends with the other residents of the consulate: Sophie Baumer (Joan Bennett), the consul's wife; the secretary Baron Max Von Alvenstor (Carl Esmond); and a pretty maid named Freida (Poldi Dur as Poldy Dur.)Moe senses an underlying tension that is not entirely accounted for by the gathering clouds of war. The gambling-loving Baumer has lost a large sum of money belonging to the German government, Sophie has learned to hate her husband and what he stands for and represents, and Baron Max has fallen in love with her. Max confronts Baumer with the discrepancy in the consulate's funds, and Baumer threatens to inform Berlin that one of Max's grandparents was not "Aryan." The arrival of a group of Nazi saboteurs (Ted North, Elmer Jack Semple and J. Norton Dunn) and the insistence they be given the funds to finance their project stirs consulate affairs even further.