8/10
A fine positive propaganda film...
11 December 2009
This film was set in an unnamed nation that was just conquered by the Nazis. Given the statue of the WWI soldier at the beginning of the movie, it probably was intended as either Belgium or France (given the style uniform on the statue). However, in an odd Hollywood decision, the cast was made up of a wide variety of actors and accents--such as the very American Kent Smith, the Irish Maureen O'Hara, Englishman Charles Laughton and the very cultured George Sanders (who hailed from Russia from English parents). It was also confusing because the country was just conquered and yet by this point the Americans were apparently in the war (meaning it most likely occurred in 1942 or 43)--and no nation fit this pattern. All were fine actors, however, and the excellent writing made me forget about all this.

The story of this fictional nation is all about collaboration versus resistance. Some are obviously evil and seem to like the Germans--or at least look to get rich off the suffering of their own people. Some appear to be collaborators but are actually brave resistance fighters. And Laughton is a nice case--a very wimpy 'everyman' who eventually finds his strength of character through the course of the film.

While some might find this all a bit hokey, the film was an excellent piece of positive propaganda. It must have been incredibly rousing when it debuted and according to IMDb it set box office records. Good acting and a nice script make this one of the better films of its type--well worth watching and memorable--especially for Laughton's fine characterization as well as his impressive speech near the end.
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