7.2/10
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49 user 24 critic

Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 25 February 1952 (Norway)
Trailer
2:58 | Trailer
As the US Army approaches Nazi Germany, they recruit German prisoners to spy behind German lines.

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Peter Viertel (screenplay), George Howe (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Basehart ... Lt. Dick Rennick
Gary Merrill ... Col. Devlin
Oskar Werner ... Cpl. Karl Maurer - aka Happy
Hildegard Knef ... Hilde (as Hildegarde Neff)
Dominique Blanchar ... Monique
O.E. Hasse ... Col. Oberst von Ecker
Wilfried Seyferth Wilfried Seyferth ... Heinz Scholtz - SS Man (as Wilfried Seyfert)
Hans Christian Blech ... Sgt. Rudolf Barth - aka Tiger
Helene Thimig ... Fräulein Paula Schneider
Robert Freitag ... Sgt. Paul Richter (as Robert Freytag)
George Tyne ... Sgt. Griffin
C.A. Amos C.A. Amos ... Himself (as C.A. Amos 1st Lt. USAF)
Harold Benedict Harold Benedict ... Lt. Pete Gevers
H.W. Briggs H.W. Briggs ... Himself (as H.W. Briggs Sgt. USA)
D.G. Devine D.G. Devine ... Lt. Rennick's Driver
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Storyline

WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that "Tiger", who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary "Happy", who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front. Written by Eduardo Casais <eduardo.casais@research.nokia.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A woman's kiss . . . A lighted cigarette - Each had Its meaning! An exciting and realistic story of war . . . of German Prisoners Sent Back Behind Their Own Lines as Agents of the Allies!

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

25 February 1952 (Norway) See more »

Also Known As:

Legion of the Damned See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The producers and director Anatole Litvak chose to film the movie on location in postwar Germany because of its authentic background--many of the country's large cities still had areas that had been bombed into rubble and not been rebuilt yet, and there was a lot of actual WW II German military equipment (tanks, rifles, uniforms, etc.) still available. See more »

Goofs

The radio in the Gasthaus is a 1950s vintage Grundig. During the war, the radio, if there was one, would most likely be a Volksemphänger. See more »

Quotes

Cpl. Karl Maurer aka Happy: I believe in a life in which one is not always afraid, in a life in which people are free and honest with each other. And I know we won't have this in Germany... until... until we have lost.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in That Girl: Decision Before Dawn (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Ach, wie ist' möglich dann (Treue Liebe)
(uncredited)
Written by Friedrich Kücken (1827)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Great Period Movie
31 December 2004 | by twinthomas2003See all my reviews

The movie puts you in WWII's closing days as you watch an idealistic young German Army medic become a traitor to his country by working as a spy in order to let the war end quickly and let peace return. The movie extras are former German soldiers, and you can tell by how they wear their "rag tag" uniforms and bark out commands in German. The scenes are superb. Bombed out areas of Germany were used, and one scene in a bombed out theater is especially great. You hear the falling glass and metal structures as the Gestopo search for the soldier. It is simply a very entertaining movie that lets one ponder: What would I have done if I were in his place?


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