7/10
Anti-Nazi film about a timid teacher becomes involved into the actions of the resistance and charged with murder
19 June 2013
One of greatest anti-war films with memorable acting from Charles Laughton , Maureen O'Hara and George Sanders . It's a moving reflexion about war , sacrifice and death . A mild-mannered schoolteacher (Charles Laughton) in a Nazi occupied town during WWII finds himself being torn between collaboration and resistance . He is quite friendly with his fellow teacher , Louise Martin (Maureen O'Hara) and her brother Paul (Kent Smith ) . Meanwhile , at school and street many prohibited books, considered "un-German," were broken or burned in the book-burning pile . Albert is charged with murder but the local Nazi commander, Major Erich Von Keller (Walter Slezak) , offers him a deal . At the end the teacher begins reading to his students "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" (French: Déclaration Des Droits l'Homme Et Du Citoyen), a fundamental document of the French Revolution.

This is an excellent classic anti-war movie and deals about sacrifice , collaboration , comradeship , human relations and in which a shy man is drawn into the actions of the resistance . A heart-breaker and elegiac movie in the way it shows war undercutting and qualities of a timid but good teacher . This is a well-paced , deliberate and magnetic drama set in WWII . It is a riveting film dealing with thought-provoking issues , wonderful acting and anti-Nazi denounce . Anyway, the film is very interesting , thematically intriguing and brooding . Time has not diminished its qualities nor its charming to the emotions . Interesting performances enhance an eloquent screenplay by Dudley Nichols . Impressive defense final speech , though propaganda , which is arousing the citizens in court . The film opened simultaneously at 72 theaters in 50 key cities on 7 May 1943, setting a box office record for gross receipts on an opening day. Excellent acting by the great Charles Laughton , giving a remarkable , self-effecting performance as a coward , mild-mannered teacher who is drawn into the actions of the resistance . Very good support cast includes extraordinary actors as George Sanders as George Lambert , Walter Slezak as Major Erich Von Keller , Kent Smith as Paul Martin and special mention to Una O'Connor as mother at a sympathetic though exaggerated interpretation .

The film is excellently screen-written and directed by Jean Renoir who approach the intensity and feel of his best works. Son of painter impressionist Auguste Renoir , was perhaps the best of French directors . At its initial French period he directed classics as ¨Boudu saved drowning, Rules of the game, Marseillaise, Day in the country¨ and of course ¨Grand Illusion¨ in which his optimism remains relentless . Renoir was in Hollywood for seven years, where he made ¨Swamp water, Southerner, Diary of chambermaid, This land is mine,and Woman on the beach¨. He returned France where directed other classic films as ¨Carrozza dóro, Testament Dr Cordelier, Picnic on the grass, Vanishing corporal¨ and several others. His films have influenced on Francois Truffaut, Luchino Visconti, Satyajit Ray , among them. Rating : above average, an extraordinary and sensational film.
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