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War time morale booster is dated now but music survives
Cajun-417 August 2000
This romantic story of a Polish concert pianist/fighter pilot was never really very good. The dialog is often less than sparkling, the sets tend to look cheap and the few outdoor shots are often just painted backgrounds. There is an impressive shot of Spitfires taking off to do battle but the climatic dog fight is rather poorly choreographed. The script is rather lumbering with a couple of non too subtle nudges at American, Irish neutrality.

Anton Wallbrook as the pianist is his usual suave self, only sometimes he is not too convincing when he is supposed to be playing the piano, also I am sure that no refined European gentleman would have a conversation with a lady (especially one as beautiful as Sally Gray) with a cigarette dangling from his lips. That was probably the director's fault.

What makes this film memorable of course is the music. One of the most famous movie scores in history. Even now "The Warsaw Concerto" is a standard item on pop-classical concerts.

Just a few words about Sally Gray. She was one of the most beautiful and seductive actresses in British movies during the forties who was generally wasted in her roles. Perhaps it was her personal choice but I was surprised that she was never snapped up by Hollywood. I always thought what a great Hitchcock heroine she would have made. Alas, it never happened.
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Nice Music, Shame About the Film
JamesHitchcock14 April 2005
An article in a British newspaper recently referred to this film not by its correct title but as "The Warsaw Concerto". (No film of that title has ever been made). This perhaps illustrates how the film's reputation has been eclipsed by that of its famous theme music. Richard Addinsell's music, later elaborated into a real concert piece, is still to be found in the classical repertoire more than sixty years after it was written, but the film has largely been forgotten.

This is not really surprising, as the film itself is not all that good. It is a standard wartime combination of romance and propaganda. Sometimes, as with "Casablanca", this formula could result in a classic film of lasting quality, but "Dangerous Moonlight" is not in the same class. The central character, Stefan Radetzky, is a world-famous Polish pianist and composer, who also holds a commission as a fighter pilot in his country's air force. Following the German invasion of Poland, Radetzky escapes to America where he pursues his career as a concert pianist and also falls in love with, and marries, a beautiful female journalist. Tensions in the marriage arise when Radetzky decides that it is his patriotic duty to travel to Britain and to join the Polish air squadron which has been created to continue the struggle against Nazism. His wife, however, feels that his place is to remain in America with her.

The film's propaganda function was twofold. Its makers aimed not only to keep up morale in Britain by highlighting the contribution to the war effort of our Polish allies, but also to influence public opinion in still-neutral America. The brilliant musician Radetzky stands as a symbol of that European high culture that was in danger from Nazi barbarism. The isolationist position of many Americans is made to look selfish and short-sighted. This position is adopted for a time by Radetzky's American wife Carol, until she comes to understand that her husband's duty is to fight for his country and that hers is to support him in that fight.

Like many propaganda films of the time, this one was obviously made quickly and on a small budget. The acting is not distinguished and the sets, such as the bombed ruins of Warsaw, are clearly artificial. One thing that is, however, surprisingly good is the scenes of aerial combat; I have heard it suggested that genuine footage of dogfights was used. Apart from the music, however, this is not really a memorable film. 6/10 (5/10 for the film, with a bonus point for the music).

A couple of goofs. The hero's surname was obviously chosen for its musical associations, but the normal Polish spelling would be Radecki. Radetzky is a Germanised form; Strauss's famous march was named after an Austrian general. At one point during the dogfight scenes we see a German bomber with its identification letters the wrong way round; these frames had obviously been inverted.
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Some of the best music to come out of England!
tom.mack28 March 2000
"Dangerous Moonlight" is one of those movies that catches one by surprise. I was working in my home office one night when I started hearing this piano music coming from the living room television. Enjoying it so much, I quit working and went in to listen and then to watch. Then after checking the television schedule, I set the VCR and taped the movie. I have since watched the movie several times and continue to enjoy it.

Anton Wallenbrook plays his part quite well and gives one a very interesting story of talent and guilt. Sally Gray makes an equally good performance as a normal insensitive American lady reporter who does not understand the implications of war. Derrick DeMarney is also good as the best friend of Stefan Radetsky, by being his conscience and confidant.

You can enjoy this movie watching it once, but don't cheat yourself, watch it a few times.
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Propaganda film made fast, on the cheap, but with beautiful music
blanche-213 April 2010
Anton Walbrook and Sally Gray fall in love in "Dangerous Moonlight," a 1941 British film also starring Derrick Marney. The story is told in flashback. When we first meet the famous Polish pianist-composer Stefan Radetzky (Walbrook), he is an amnesia victim to whom the doctors have given a piano in the hopes that he will remember something. We then see what brought him to this point. He is a fighter pilot who first meets Carol (Sally Gray), a beautiful American reporter, in Warsaw while he is grounded. There is an instant attraction; six months later, when the Germans have invaded Poland, Radetzky comes to America to give concerts in order to raise money for Polish refugees. He and Carol meet again and decide to get married. He finally decides to go back and fight, but Carol doesn't want him to leave.

Sally Gray had a nervous breakdown after this movie that kept her off the screen for five years, but I doubt it had anything to do with "Dangerous Moonlight." Later on, she became a Baroness and retired, even turning down an offer from Hollywood. She's lovely in the film, though doesn't make much of a stab at an American accent. Given that the character comes from money, though, her accent is probably fine, as young women in the better schools were taught that British-type accent anyway. Anton Walbrook is very suave and attractive.

This is a propaganda film that seems to have dashed out without much of an eye to detail - it has German planes flying upside down, and I doubt very much if "Radetzky" spelled that way is Polish. The goal of the film was to keep up morale and also to encourage the U.S. to stop its policy of isolationism. Since it wasn't released in the U.S. until April of 1942, England had already gotten its wish.

What makes "Dangerous Moonlight" memorable is the music, notably the Warsaw Concerto, purportedly written by Radetzky, in reality written by Richard Addinsell. Pianist Louis Kentner dubbed the piano for Walbrook and plays the Chopin Polonaise as well. The Warsaw Concerto is very haunting music, just beautiful.

If you're not familiar with Sally Gray, and you like beautiful music, you might want to check out this film. As a bit of trivia, the Beatles song "A Day in the Life" was actually written about Sally Gray's stepson, who apparently crashed John Lennon's car.
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Flashback of Polish war pilot,starting and ending with struggle to recall concerto.
saustin9 August 2001
Opens in UK hospital with Walbrook as war-injured Polish officer agonising over recall of composition:flashback to meeting with N.Y. news correspondent (who quickly supplants US with UK accent) Sally Gray(actress's name) as he ruminates over concerto composition.Further recall to selection by Air pilots' squad to come to US to garner funds for Poland in 1940.Wrenching decision to return East and and as RAF pilot runs out of ammunition and wilfully crashes into German bomber,bringing us back to original scene in hospital room. Conflicts developed very nicely:between hero and other pilots;between hero and close friend over the heroine;between hero and wife about return to UK;and within himself over his future mission:to stay fundraising in US or join RAF.Goes without saying about excellent haunting" Warsaw Concerto" excellently played,very moody amd evocative. When this film came out in '41 the Concerto was criticised as a copy of Grieg's p.concerto in A mi., or Tchaikowski's 2nd in C. All the same it is worth several viewings.
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proposterous British war romance
didi-517 June 2003
This film is the one which introduced the 'Warsaw Concerto', one of those almost classical pieces ('The Dream of Olwen' is the other major one) which are effective and burrow their way into your consciousness. Anton Walbrook is traumatised by something that happened when he was a flyer, and Sally Gray is the love interest who is trying to get him back. The performances are finely tuned but really it is the music which is the star. The film itself is typical of its type, over-dramatised British 40s drama at its worst. As such it is watchable but far from great!
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A DVD With Subtitles Would Help This One
ccthemovieman-16 October 2007
This is another case where if this movie was available on DVD with English subtitles, I might enjoy it. As it was, seeing it on VHS I had to strain to understand half the dialog of Anton Walbrook, who plays a Polish man, "Steve Radetzky." His combination British-Polish accent was tough to decipher and it totally takes away from enjoying the film.

Also a warning for those who read on the VHS box about the "great action scenes." Those don't take place until the very end of the movie! It's hardly a great film to begin with, with a very dated look to it with the hokey backgrounds scenes somewhat cheap production values.

One thing that is not cheap or dated: the fine music. Our main character is a pianist as few people ever complain listening to someone play "The Warsaw Concerto." I've also never complained looking at Sally Gray's face!

However, your best bet is to buy the CD for the music and skip the film, although at slightly over an-hour-and-a-half, it's not a long film one has to endure to get through....but don't expect a lot of excitement here.
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Pianist/Pilot fights remembering war memories.
gsanders7 March 2000
Without a doubt, the very best film music ever composed. All Warsaw Concerto fans should purchase this movie because there are other musical motifs present in the film score which are not present in the printed score for piano and orchestra. You will be mesmerized by the music alone and won't be paying much attention to the film. The film is somewhat mediocre. Bravo to Richard Addinsell!
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Outstanding music, not-so-good a film
TheLittleSongbird28 July 2015
Dangerous Moonlight is one of those almost completely forgotten films, apart from the music, and tracking the film down for the first time it is not particularly hard to see why that is.

The music by Richard Addinsell is the one component that people remember about the film, and it is also the best and only outstanding element about it. The Warsaw Concerto is very popular, is a concert show-piece and is still heard on the radio a lot, and judging from the hauntingly stirring and quite oddly beautiful way it's written for good reason too. Anton Walbrook is typically suave (though this is a long way from being one of his better performances), while lovely Sally Gray brings some poignancy to her role and Derrick DeMarnay is a suitably sympathetic confidant, his chemistry with Walbrook being particularly strong. The film is sometimes moving, and the aerial combat sequences are quite good.

On the other hand, Dangerous Moonlight was apparently made quickly and cheaply and it shows in some less than smooth photography, some choppy editing (like in the climatic dog fight) and some clearly artificial-looking sets. The script is lumbering and heavy-handed with some ham-fisted melodrama (Walbrook's dialogue is not always easy to understand too), the sometimes moving but thin story is really quite dull, over-dramatised and little more than nonsensical and heavy-handed propaganda, the film is routinely directed and the climatic dog fight agreed is choreographed pretty poorly. Apart from the three leads the rest of the acting is either wooden or overwrought, and Walbrook and Gray's chemistry while sometimes affecting doesn't ignite as well as it could have done.

In conclusion, loved Addinsell's music, but Dangerous Moonlight as a film on the whole left me cold. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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Only dangerous if taken seriously
sol121813 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Off the wall British WWII propaganda movie that has Polish musical whiz composer and pianist Stefan, or just call me Steve for short, Radetzky (Anton Warbook) give up the good life of traveling around the world, that still isn't controlled by Nazi Germany, giving concerts for Polish relief. Steve instead is all fired up to join the famed Polish "Suicide Squadron", the films original title, back in Britain to participate against the German Luftwaffe in the "Battle of Britain".

We already know what the outcome of Steve's contribution as a Polish suicide or kamikaze pilot was by seeing the totally out of touch with reality Steve in a London hospital room in the fall of 1940. It's there that Steve for hours at a time mindlessly bangs away at a piano, that was provided for him by the hospital staff, thus keeping everyone, doctors nurses and patients, there form getting their much needed sleep! With the hospital and the surrounding neighborhood suffering from around the clock bombings by the German Luftwaffe!

It's then that we, in a long long flashback, get to see what were the reasons for Steve's mental deterioration that started a year ago when the Germans invaded his homeland Poland in September 1939. That's when Steve's now estranged wife American newspaper reporter and classical music lover Carol Peters, Sally Gray, ran into Steve in bombed out Warsaw playing a piano as if, with bombs falling all around him, he doesn't have a care in the world. This strange scene gets even stranger when Carol, shocked at Steve's strange behavior, tells the what looks like completely out of it piano player how he could be so flippant while his country is totally in flames. An outraged Steve, finally showing some emotion, reminds Carol that with no petrol left in the country how could he, a polish airman, be able to take off and battle it out with the hated Germans when his plane's gas tank is completely empty!

It's then as if a miracle happened there comes the news that there are some 30 planes available with full gas tanks to both fly west on a suicide mission into the German heartland or fly east to neutral, at the time, Romania to await further instructions from the Polish Government in Exile! It comes as no surprise that Steve is chosen by lot to be the lucky, or unlucky in Steve's case, guy to be one of two Polish airman to take a flight out of harms way into friendly Romania! What Steve didn't know at the time is that the drawing was fixed in his favor to keep him the great Stefan "Steve" Radetzky, a Polish natural treasure, from getting himself, together with his great musical talents, killed in the war. It was determined by higher ups, from Prime Minister Winston Churchill on down, in the British Government that Steve would be a much better weapon against the Nazis in him going around the world giving concerts to inspire people to support the war instead of him risking his life in fighting it. It's in Americia while giving a concert in New York City that Steven is reunited with Carol, who at first he didn't recognize, and the two musical lovebirds are married in what seemed like before the day is even over!

Supposedly, with a title like "Suicide Squadron", a war movie we finally get to see some action, air to air combat over the British skies, with a really charged up Steve dropping both his music and Carol, who now wants him to stay behind the lines and not risk his life fighting the Nazis, and go join his beloved "Suicide Squadron" that's now attached to the British RAF in the life and death battle with the German Luftwaffe in the "Battle of Britain".

***SPOILERS*** After waiting for almost the entire movie to get to see some war action the films action sequence, that lasted about three minutes, was not only boring but mindless as well. Steve now airborne with a set of ill fitting pilot goggles, that make his look as if he were crossed-eyed, engages the enemy knocking two Nazi fighter planes out of the sky with his fighter plane's machine gun but also slamming into a slow moving Nazi attack bomber, kamikaze style, before it could drop it's bombs on an RAF airfield. Of course, as we saw at the beginning of the movie, Steve survived the carnage almost unscathed with only a slight loss of memory for all his troubles in trying to unsuccessfully kill himself for Poland.

The ending is about as corny as it can get in this very corny film with Carol suddenly showing up unexpectedly at Steve's hospital room where his memory miraculously recovers as he finally gets his Mojo, piano playing ability, back! Now a totally cured and rejuvenated Steve start to knock out his masterpiece that he composed while under the gun in far off Warsaw over a year ago: "The Warsaw Concerto"!
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Wartime propaganda!
JohnHowardReid16 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This silly film need not detain us long. My only problem is that the movie has so many defects, it's difficult to decide where to start!

But here in no particular order are some of its major problems:

1. The script is absolutely ridiculous.

2. The direction by Brian Desmond Hurst is less than competent.

3. The acting by just about all concerned can only be described as not only laughably incompetent, but totally inadequate.

4. The USA release title, "Suicide Squadron", is a cheap come-on.

But on the other hand, the sets and the photography are sometimes attractive, and the music score, which includes the famous "Warsaw Concerto", is more than adequate.
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Music and passion at war
clanciai13 January 2018
What is wrong about this film? The story couldn't be better, and it is underscored by one of the best film scores ever made. Still, the film is far from a successful film.

Whose fault is it? The director Brian Desmond Hurst made many films on the best of stories, but none of them really come alive, as if he was rather formally transferring a piece of literature to pictures without the capacity to make the actors transcend the story, as if their main task was not to act but only to sustain the story.

Anton Walbrook makes the best of it, and he is reliable as in every film he ever made, but possibly sensitive to the director's limitations, he stays within himself throughout the film.

Sally Grey just isn't enough. She is not well chosen for this role of a cool journalist of a millionaire's only daughter, rather spoiled and childish, and she is not psychologically convincing, just not living up to the profound and passionate romance that is presented in the first scenes in the ruins of Warsaw. After this film, she would make no other until five years later, but then she would be so much better in "Carnival".

The main acting asset of the film is instead Derrick de Marney as Walbrook's colleague and best friend, who actually saves the film, although he is the only truly tragic figure.

And how come that this outstanding music, by many deemed as the best film music ever made, doesn't succeed in saving the film? The guilty one here is actually Anton Walbrook - he is as far from convincing as a pianist as an actor could get. It's over-obvious that every single sequence with him playing the piano, and they are many, is faked. He is never seen to touch the keys, he is completely dispassionate sitting by the piano although the music couldn't be more passionate, and this is the main want of the film - the music is there, but it would have been better if we never had to see the pianist at work. It is recommended to close your eyes every time you see Anton Walbrook by the piano and listen to the real pianist instead of watching a painful fake.

The story also saves the film. It is much deeper and more complicated than what it first appears like, and you need to see the film a couple of times before you understand it. The first time must be a disappointment. The second time you will understand everything you didn't understand the first time, and then you know how to deal with this - in spite of all - super-unique gem of a romantic war crisis film of patriotic passion and responsibility at stake on the altar of love.
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Play It Again, Stefan
EdgarST2 October 2017
It was inevitable that the piece of music Richard Addinsell composed for this film would become more popular than the movie itself, when it is heard over and over again in the 94 minutes original version or in the 82 minutes reduction made in the United States. Even at this shorter version, the movie seems overlong, because it takes too much screen time to tell a very simplistic patriotic tale. There is not enough passion transmitted by the Polish pianist and his American bride to carry on the movie, and on top of that, too much screen time is given to Derrick De Marney as an Irish suitor, who is supposed to be fiery and passionate but seems rather lame. Poor Sally Gray (25 years old) is trapped in the middle of Anton Walbrook who was 45 and De Marney, 35. The film is interesting up to the leading characters' wedding but after that, it becomes more routine than the previous first part. When Brian Desmond Hurt films the climatic concert as static and dull as he could manage, then you know there is not much to do, but wait for one air battle of the kind you have seen dozens of times. Only Addinsell was truly inspired when he worked in this production, so he deserves all the success of his «Warsaw Concerto».
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Not really that good
margaras31 August 2011
Wartime propaganda movie that was probably supposed to make people more kindly disposed towards Polish pilots in the RAF. I had heard about this film for years but never seen it; now however I recall that Spike Milligan in his memoirs (of a time when this was a brand new movie) describes it as something like "bloody awful." I wouldn't go that far but for a movie that is supposed to be about a fighter pilot it has a handful of minutes of flying and several hours (it feels like) of piano music + Sally Gray (who is not bad to look at I admit). Or closeups of Anton Walbrook's rabbit-like face as more orchestral music plays in the background.
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Polish? Theoretically. Polish? Alas, no
writers_reign8 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am, of course, judging a film that was released in 1941 and involves a Polish airman seconded to the RAF in 2010 after just watching it for the first time virtually seventy years later when flaws that were either unnoticed or overlooked in the middle of a global war loom as large as the icebergs waiting to scuttle the Titanic. Though most of the other reviews I've read here are, on the whole, unsympathetic, no one appears to have noticed the almost total lack of chemistry between Anton 'Tilly' Walbrook and Sally Gray. Offscreen, of course, Walbrook was a well-known homosexual but in those days the general public would have been totally unaware of his sexual preference and attributed the lack of chemistry to unfortunate casting. As everyone seems to note the background music was excellent and Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto does a lot to distract from the clichéd plot and wooden acting. This is one of s series of 'forgotten' British films dating largely from the 40s and 50s; it's the first one I've seen and by and large it deserves to be forgotten, let's hope that not all the titles do.
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