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Made in the months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Confirm Or Deny is a pleasant comedy-drama set during the London blitz, featuring engaging performances by its lead players, Don Ameche and Joan Bennett. The production values are excellent, and for a modest film it is visually quite striking, managing at times to evoke the mood of the real life photographs and newsreels of London on a Hollywood backlot. Director Archie Mayo was in decline when he made this film, but rallied for the occasion, making it seem much better than its script. A period piece, for sure, but a fascinating one, and at times quite moving. Unlike most American movies of the period, this one gives the real world its due, and its occasional moments of sadness and even tragedy are touching, and still resonate through the years.
Don Ameche is an American newspaperman waiting for the Germans to
invade London in "Confirm or Deny," a 1941 film also starring Joan
Bennett, Roddy McDowall, and Eric Blore. Ameche plays the conniving,
fast-talking Mitch, who meets Jennifer (Bennett) during an air raid and
falls for her. When his office building is bombed, he moves the staff
into the basement of a hotel and persuades someone to let him use a
teletype machine to give him a 40-minute lead on the other papers when
the invasion happens. He arranges for Jennifer to be loaned out as a
teletypist. Meanwhile, Mitch becomes angry that the censor (John Loder)
isn't letting him report on some of the news.
This is a small movie from 20th Century Fox, but it really conveys the atmosphere, tension, and tragedy of wartime and has interesting and likable characters. Ameche does his usual terrific job, Bennett is lovely, and Roddy McDowall is adorable as a little volunteer watching out for homing pigeons with coded messages.
Though it has some glaring tonal shifts this little charmer should be
better known then it is.
Don Ameche stars as a brash, to put it mildly, news reporter who bulldozes his way to whatever he wants in London during the Blitz. One night while walking during a blackout he happens to meet a lovely Joan Bennett and practically sweeps her off her feet. When the air raid sirens go off they end up spending the night in a tube station with dozens of others, when he wakes up and she's gone leaving behind a cheeky note that would be the end of it for most men but not for Ameche who doggedly finds out her identity and finagles a way for them to work together. From there it's a fast dance towards love amongst the threat of bombs and assorted crises. It's all pretty breezy with nice performances by the stars but being a war movie reality occasionally intrudes leading to those jarring shifts.
Still certainly as good as many other better known movies from the era why this one has fallen through the cracks is a puzzler.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Whether or not this is one hundred percent fictional or fact, one truth
does remain. The United States of America needed to know what Europe
was already facing for years before they got into the historical era
known as World War II. Alfred Hitchcock had already given the
uninvolved Americans a piece of this with the Oscar Nominated "Foreign
Correspondent", and the year after this, the star of that film, Dana
Andrews, starred in the 20th Century Fox "B" drama "Berlin
Correspondent". All "Confirm or Deny" strives to be is a slice of life
taste of what was going on under America's nose that we couldn't see
unless we were "over there". Don Ameche, one of the most popular actors
of this era, took on the role of "London Correspondent", and whether or
not he is representative of the truth, he does an excellent job with
Working pretty much from an underground bunker, Ameche learns to hate that word known as "censored". Every time the military stamps that on one of his correspondences to be approved, he gets irate, but as he soon has to learn, we don't want the enemy to know that we know what they are up to. In this case, it is the fact that Ameche has learned that the Fuhrer is as close as Calais, and possibly on his way to London to oversee an invasion. In one of the opening scenes, he's stuck outside in a blackout, meeting up with the cockney voiced Joan Bennett (!) who berates him for lighting a match. He's impressed with her moxie, and before long, she's working his teletype and overtime as well, going out on dates with him. Bennett's attempt at a British accent is almost comical considering her obvious American upbringing, but her character is totally charming. Gone for this film are the long Hedy Lamarr tresses, and a simple, more sophisticated hairstyle makes her look almost like Myrna Loy.
Young Roddy McDowall plays a cheery British kid who works for Ameche, keeping his eye out for carrier pigeons. Totally the epitome of the "Chin Up, Pip pip, Cherrio" stereotype, he is even cheery when Ameche wakes him up at daybreak, always eager to please, and excited beyond belief when a pigeon with a message does come in for a landing. Eric Blore is his old droll self as the manager of the hotel above the bunker, while Raymond Walburn just plays an old fool who keeps sticking his foot in his mouth. This is typical war propaganda, whether or not America was in it at the time, and there certainly have been worse films and others which have gone on to become downright classics. But I have to say that this is one of the more enjoyable films, fraught with occasional tension (a seemingly dud bomb is revealed to be on a timer), light romance and comedy. I just loved Bennett's reaction to the girl she later finds out whose dress Ameche has stolen (looking quite odd to a hotel clerk while walking through a hotel lobby carrying women's clothing) and asking him why the dame hidden by the hair is staring at her.
this movie is quite amazing... not a big surprised after i learned from
that sam fuller was part writer,...
this insanely intense guy is a manager of a newspaper branch in london during the nazi raids in the early 40s. yr never quite sure if he is more worried about getting killed, or getting the jump on the other papers on some big story, like about a possible german land invasion of england. then he meets this odd british woman to push against him, maybe thats why he likes her, damn good thing he met her too as youll see in the end. its all photographed amazingly,,,
so weird to see how people lived during the bombing as well,... the london subway with its posters, its huddled masses trying to sleep, bombs, violence, the actors are really good, esp. the two leads. don ameche was gonan jump out of the screen, i got tired just watching the guy.. the last 5 minutes are pure propaganda, but so what, the rest of the movie is great.
oh well whatever, its stupid to gush over a fake version of something real that had millions of people that you could actually meet out there to talk about how truly intense it was etc.
anyways, the movie is still great.
Don Ameche stars as Mitch, a glib American reporter stationed in England just as the Blitz is about to take place. He's a not particularly nice guy--a bit of a departure for Ameche. This is because he's mostly concerned with two things--women and getting a scoop. Whether the Brits lose to the Nazis doesn't seem that important to Mitch and he has this attitude through almost all of the film. Then, late in the film Albert (Roddy McDowell) is killed in a bombing raid and INSTANTLY Mitch becomes a patriot and kills a story that could hurt the British war effort! This change is completely counter to who Mitch was and should have resulted in a slower change...not one like you see in the film. It's obvious that the film was intended as propaganda and to bolster US support for the war...but stretching out the film another 10-15 minutes and showing a realistic change in Mitch would have made it an exceptional film...not a transparent and superficial one like it is.
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