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The Hour Before the Dawn (1944)

Approved | | Drama, War | 22 September 1944 (Portugal)
A beautiful Austrian refugee in England--who is also a Nazi agent--marries a scholarly English pacifist. He lives near a secret military base she needs to get information about so she can help in Hitler's planned invasion of England.


Frank Tuttle


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Cast overview:
Franchot Tone ... Jim Hetherton
Veronica Lake ... Dora Bruckmann
John Sutton ... Roger Hetherton
Binnie Barnes ... May Heatherton
Henry Stephenson ... Gen. Hetherton
Philip Merivale ... Sir Leslie Buchanon
Nils Asther ... Kurt van der Breughel
Edmund Breon ... Freddy Merritt
David Leland David Leland ... Tommy Hetherton
Aminta Dyne Aminta Dyne ... Hertha Parkins


A beautiful Austrian refugee in England--who is also a Nazi agent--marries a scholarly English pacifist. He lives near a secret military base she needs to get information about so she can help in Hitler's planned invasion of England.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

espionage | based on novel | See All (2) »


W. Somerset Maugham's most savage portrait of a dangerous woman!


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »





English | German

Release Date:

22 September 1944 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

A Hora Antes do Amanhecer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its initial television presentation took place in Omaha Tuesday 6 January 1959 on KETV (Channel 7), followed by Chicago Friday 16 January 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2); in Asheville it first aired 6 June 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), in Grand Rapids aired 7 August 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Seattle 2 September 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Detroit 24 September 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Milwaukee 2 October 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Phoenix 7 November 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Johnstown 11 November 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), in Philadelphia 4 December 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), in Pittsburgh 5 December on KDKA (Channel 2), in New York City 29 April 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2), and in Los Angeles 14 September 1960 on KNXT (Channel 2). See more »


Jim Hetherton: Those who want to fight can. I won't.
Gen. Hetherton: You're not serious.
Jim Hetherton: Of course I'm serious. You all know how I feel. It's nothing new. I hate war and I can have no part in it.
Sir Leslie Buchanon: We all hate war, Jim. It's just there are some things we hate even more. Things we can't go on living with.
[Looks at the radio]
Sir Leslie Buchanon: Things like, well, you heard just now.
Jim Hetherton: You all despise me, don't you?
Roger Hetherton: Don't talk rough. We don't despise you. We're just... just trying to understand, that's all.
Jim Hetherton: Of course, I'm sorry. you've always been ...
See more »


Referenced in Still Life 2 (2009) See more »


Beer Barrel Polka
(Roll Out the Barrel) (uncredited)
Music by Jaromir Vejvoda (1927)
Lyrics by Lew Brown and Wladimir A. Timm
Led by Binnie Barnes during an air raid
See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywood's strange view of Britain at war
21 September 2017 | by malcolmgswSee all my reviews

I was unaware of this film till I found it on youtube.Initially I viewed it because of my interest in Veronica Lake.However I became more interested by the strange view of Britain at war.As an alien from an enemy country Lake would have been interned.Tone as an objector would probably have been asked to serve as a non combatant,eg a medic.There were no spy rings in Britain. Lake is miscast as a refugee and I would agree that this marks the beginning of her decline both personally and professionally.

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