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Suicide Squadron (1941)
"Dangerous Moonlight" (original title)

 -  Drama | Romance | War  -  20 April 1942 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 281 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 1 critic

During World War II, an American newswoman falls for a Polish piano virtuoso...who wants to go back and fight.

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(original story and screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anton Walbrook ...
Stefan 'Steve' Radetzky
Sally Gray ...
Carol Peters Radetzky
Derrick De Marney ...
Mike Carroll
Cecil Parker ...
Specialist
Percy Parsons ...
Bill Peters
Kenneth Kent ...
Andre De Guise (as Keneth Kent)
J.H. Roberts ...
Residing Physician (as J.H.Roberts)
Guy Middleton ...
Shorty
...
British Commander
Frederick Valk ...
Polish Bomber Commander
O.B. Clarence ...
Waiter with tray of wine
James Pirrie ...
(as James Perrie)
Marian Spencer ...
Miss Gratton (as Marion Spencer)
Leslie Gordon ...
(as Lesley Gordon)
Philip Friend ...
Pete
Edit

Storyline

Prologue: in 1940, a shellshocked man fights to recall his past. Flashback: During the Nazi invasion of Poland, American reporter Carole Peters meets Polish airman Stefan Radetzky, also a piano virtuoso. Stefan is among the last to escape Warsaw; months later, in New York, he and Carole meet again, and marry. But the thought of his going back to fight is not only personally terrifying to Carole, but seems a great waste of his musical talent... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

20 April 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Suicide Squadron  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although this was a British RKO production, RKO leased it to Republic Pictures for release in the United States. However, RKO distributed it in England. See more »

Goofs

In a cockpit close-up, during the final air battle, the "Poland" flash on Stefan's uniform is back-to-front, as in a mirror image. This indicates that the original left-to-right shot was "flipped" so that it coincided with the other right-to-left shots that are used in the complete battle sequence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Terence Young: Bond Vivant (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Liebestraum No. 3 (A Dream of Love)
Written by Franz Liszt
Played on piano by Anton Walbrook (dubbed by Louis Kentner)
Hummed by Sally Gray
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nice Music, Shame About the Film
14 April 2005 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

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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