Thursday, March 17, 2016



This propaganda thriller is set during the French occupation in the coastal village of St Pierre-le-Port where a jaunty fellow named Jean-Baptiste (John Clements, pictured at right) arrives during a period of successful Resistance activity—the Free French have managed to destroy German oil supplies and slashed the tires of Nazi vehicles. Despite his casual appearance, Jean-Baptiste is actively hiding from the Nazis and seeking out underground members; he has information that could help the British attack a Nazi military port. He is given forged papers and a job at a shipyard—and is told not to work too hard. The mayor and his daughter seem like collaborators, but they actually head up the town's Resistance band, and they plot to get Jean-Baptiste smuggled out to England along with a small group of British soldiers. The first half of the film is fairly light in tone with the Germans depicted as foolish and easy to trick, and a scene in a movie theater shows townspeople openly ridiculing newsreel footage of Hitler. But later, when a tavern keeper who informed on Free French activities is shot dead and an important supply train is successfully sabotaged, the Nazis start taking hostages. In the spirit of the film's two titles (TOMORROW WE LIVE being the British name, AT DAWN WE DIE being the American), the ending is both grim and hopeful. This is a fairly absorbing film of its type, almost archetypal in its situations and outcomes. The acting is OK, with Greta Gynt as the mayor's daughter the standout, and the cinematography is nicely done. [DVD]

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