Saturday, January 17, 2009


A competently made WWII propaganda film which falls somewhere between a B- and an A-film. John Sutton is a British spy who is snuck across the English Channel in order to find a munitions plant and mark it so the RAF can bomb it a few nights later. On his way to finding his contact, Marcel Dalio, he takes refuge in the farmhouse of Lee J. Cobb, whose son has just been reported dead in a battle against the British. Cobb is willing to help out, passing Sutton off as his son returned from the front, but Cobb's daughter, Annabella, blames the British for the death of her brother and resents Sutton almost as much as she resents the Nazis. With the help of Dalio and Cobb, Sutton finds the plant and gets local farmers in the area to set bonfires encircling it on the night of the raid, but local Nazi Howard da Silva, by threatening Annabella's family, finds out about the plot from her. When he kills her family anyway, she sees the light and commits herself to helping Sutton accomplish his goal. The production is stagy but effective, and Sutton, mostly a B-actor, acquits himself well, though I was not as impressed by Annabella, a French actress, married at the time to Tyrone Power, who did not have a long Hollywood career. Beulah Bondi is Cobb's wife, who gets tricked by Da Silva into giving away an important secret near the climax. The most striking aspect of the plot is the active role of the women; at the climax, it's the farmer's wives who have to bond together and take care of setting the fires with Sutton. Also with John Banner (Schulz on "Hogan's Heroes") and Blanche Yurka. Directed by John Brahm with some nice but unobtrusive stylistic touches here and there. [DVD]

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