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When the Germans invade Norway their Commandant and the town Mayor confront each other, attempting to maintain civility as far as possible. When the army tries to orgnanize townspeople to ... See full summary »
Lee J. Cobb
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Somewhat fictionalized account of the destruction of the village of Lidice in Czechoslovakia and the events leading up to it. In 1942, the Allies parachuted a Czech resistance fighter into the area. He quickly reunites with his former girlfriend and many of the villagers who knew him from before the war. The Nazis are evil however and under the command of Reinhardt Heydrich rule the country with an iron fist, arbitrarily arresting innocents and charging them with fictitious crimes. When Heydrich is severely wounded in a roadside attack - he dies three days later - Henrich Himmler orders the destruction of Lidice. The men are herded into a churchyard where they sing defiantly as they are shot down, the village is set aflame and the women are sent to concentration camps. The town itself is leveled. Written by
John Carradine is terrific as the assassinated Nazi, Reinhardt Heydrich
"Hitler's Madman" (1943) dramatizes the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich in 1942 in Nazi-held Czechoslovakia. It features a top-notch performance by John Carradine as Heydrich. He brings the film to life. His death scene packs a wallop because of his cynicism and fear of death and because of Himmler's reaction at his bedside. Himmler is played by Howard Freeman. Ralph Morgan, who turns to violent activism after a priest is shot by Carradine, comes off pretty good. So does Edgar Kennedy as a hermit. Peter van Eyck has an uncredited speaking role as a Nazi soldier. The mayor (Ludwig Stössel) is played as a bit of a buffoon; this undermines the realism. There is a very good scene in which the local young beauties are lined up and inspected as potential consorts for German soldiers. Did I see Ava Gardner among them, fourth from the left with her hand on her hip? Some roles fall into rather syrupy melodrama, also undermining the realism. Alan Curtis does what he can in a role that has limited possibilities. The way of speaking lines includes some Hollywood-style formality that's meant to convey a foreign language. This hasn't weathered the intervening decades that well.
The film has historical significance as part of the anti-Nazi war effort, as the first film that Douglas Sirk directed in America after fleeing Germany and as an early account of the massacre at Lidice and its destruction.
There have been a number of subsequent filmed accounts if one wants to see different approaches. I need to check them out myself. They include "Operation: Daybreak" (1975), "The Assassination" (1965) and "Hangmen Also Die!" (1943). "Anthropoid" (2016) is in production and/or unreleased.
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