Wednesday, February 05, 2003


Based on the title and the first few minutes, this looks like it will be a kind of "Boys from Brazil" story about Neo-Nazis out to reclaim the world, but it's actually a rather run-of-the-mill WWII propaganda melodrama of betrayal and loyalty. George Coulouris plays von Beck, a Nazi general who leads a group of "inner circle" Nazis on the eve of Germany's surrender (the movie was released after D-Day but before the actual surrender). Glad to leave the weakened Hitler behind, the group goes underground, intending to get new identities and foment dissent among the liberated peoples of the former Third Reich. In Belgium, Coulouris pretends to be his brother, moves in with his sister-in-law and her daughter (who were seen as collaborators by the villagers), and tries to derail the Allies to return the land to nomality. Paul Guilfoyle (father to the Paul Guilfoyle who currently plays Brass on CSI) is Coulouris' first conquest in his propaganda battle. Lloyd Bridges is a former concentration camp prisoner and Nancy Gates is his girlfriend. The most interesting character is Helena, played by Osa Massen, who was raped by a German soldier and subsequently bore a child (Gigi Perreau in a wordless performance). The two have become semi-outcasts, seen as tainted by Nazi blood. There is some nice use of light and shadow in some scenes but aside from its interesting set-up, nothing very exciting goes on. After the opening, we never see any of the other "inner circle" Nazis and the whole film becomes a story of the villagers struggling to trust each other again. One of the worst lines of dialogue in any WWII movie occurs here when Bridges has to say, at an inspiring moment, "When the Lord made people, he had a great idea!" Massen is the best actor in the picture, even though she is saddled with having to look wide-eyed and sinister for the first half of the film until her secret shame (which we guess early on) finally comes out.

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