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This Land Is Mine (1943)

 -  Drama | War  -  7 May 1943 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,588 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 17 critic

A mild-mannered schoolteacher in a Nazi occupied town during WWII finds himself being torn between collaboration and resistance.

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(screenplay)
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Title: This Land Is Mine (1943)

This Land Is Mine (1943) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Albert Lory
...
Louise Martin
...
George Lambert
Walter Slezak ...
Major Erich von Keller
Kent Smith ...
Paul Martin
...
Mrs. Emma Lory
Philip Merivale ...
Professor Sorel
Thurston Hall ...
Mayor Henry Manville
George Coulouris ...
Prosecutor
Nancy Gates ...
Julie Grant
Ivan F. Simpson ...
Judge (as Ivan Simpson)
John Donat ...
Edmund Lorraine
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Storyline

In a Nazi-occupied French town, meek and mild-mannered teacher Albert Lory lives with his mother. Few people, including his students, have any respect for him and he literally shakes in his boots during an air raid. He is quite friendly with his fellow teacher, Louise Martin and her brother Paul who also happen to be neighbors. If truth be told, Albert is quite in love with Louise but she is in a relationship with George Lambert and he feels she is quite beyond his reach. Paul is a member of the resistance and is killed when Lambert informs the Nazis. Outraged at what he's done, Albert arrives at Lambert's office just as the informer commits suicide. Albert is charged with murder but the local Nazi commander, Major Erich von Keller, offers him a deal: if Albert agrees to remain silent rather then continue a speech in his own defense which is arousing fellow citizens, he will ensure a not guilty verdict. Albert returns to the courtroom and in an act of bravery urges his fellow citizens... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

7 May 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Land Is Mine  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film opened simultaneously at 72 theaters in 50 key cities on 7 May 1943, setting a box office record for gross receipts on an opening day. Opening day ceremonies were broadcast on a radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. See more »

Goofs

When Paul Martin is trying to escape by jumping from car to car in the rail yard, one of the parked box cars to the side clearly has the Great Northern logo. While GN was a large operation, its rails didn't reach to Nazi occupied Europe. See more »

Quotes

[At Albert Lory's murder trial, the Prosecutor produces a "suicide note," proving that George Lambert killed himself. But Lory will not have it]
Albert Lory: The letter's forged, Your Honor. Major Von Keller told me last night... The prosecutor wrote that letter himself. I think he's trying to save my life.
[laughter ripples through the courtroom]
Prosecutor: This is no laughing matter! Your Honor, for the sake of the dignity of this court, I respectfully ask that the man who started that unseemly outburst be forcibly ...
[...]
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Soundtracks

Die Lorelei
(1838) (uncredited)
Music by Friedrich Silcher (1838)
Poem by Heinrich Heine (1823)
Played on accordion by Kent Smith and sung by the German soldiers
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User Reviews

A Breath of Gallic Fresh Air
29 August 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In 1944 Warner Brothers produced, as a pro-Free French propaganda movie, PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE. It was directed by Michael Curtiz, and starred "CASABLANCA" alumni Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. The end result was a mishmash of flashbacks, which failed to deliver the message of our brave allies the Free French. In retrospect, Bogart's subsequent first film with Lauren Bacall, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, was better in presenting the threat of Vichy France in the performances of Dan Seymour and Sheldon Leonard as the local Vichy policemen in Martinique. But the script was better too!

Had Warner Brothers wanted to see a good propaganda film about France under the Nazis, they need only have gone back to 1943 and this gem by the great French director Jean Renoir. Renoir always belittled his films in exile in Hollywood, but THE SOUTHERNER, THIS LAND IS MINE, THE DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, are pretty good films, even if they don't match LES GRAND ILLUSION or RULES OF THE GAME. Not everything by a director can be that great. Here Renoir concentrated on how the occupied French lived under the pressure of the occupying Nazis. From the corrupt Mayor (Thurston Hall, naturally) who is more concerned about the safety of his personal wealth than his neighbors, to the corrupted judiciary (George Coulouris, as a prosecutor fully cooperating with the real authorities) to the frightened and elderly (Una O'Connor, as the mother of Charles Laughton - willing to lie about her neighbors and collaborate if it will protect her son and herself), it is a very sad picture of the reality.

Three characters in particular stand out: Laughton, George Sanders, and Walter Slezak. Laughton is a momma's boy, who is timid. He loves Maureen O'Hara (their second teaming after THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME), but she is more impressed by Sanders, who is involved in running the railroad yard. Slezak, the local Nazi bigwig, makes a habit of showing his "pleasant" side to people like Hall, Coulouris, and Sanders, whom he relies on to make the village run smoothly. So he reassures them about their status and power. But while Hall and Coulouris are corrupt power seekers (or wealth preservers), Sanders has a conscience. He is aware of the Free French fighters, and is aware why they are sabotaging his rail yard, to prevent materiel and men to help the German war effort. When he helps the Nazis kill several (including an old friend) he commits suicide in his office. But this is a Renoir movie...he takes a leaf from the conclusion of Le Grand Illusion. There Eric von Stroheim is forced to kill his French aristocratic counterpart who seemed to be trying to escape. When Pierre Fresney dies, von Stroheim destroys the one element of beauty - a flower - in the drab castle/prison he runs. In THIS LAND IS MINE, a sad faced Sanders opens his office window wide, and releases his pet birds. After he watches them fly away, he kills himself. It makes his end more unbearable to watch that.

Laughton is accused (due to circumstances) of the "murder" of Sanders. As he is a popular teacher, Slezak figures out that he might be amendable to a deal for his life, and visits him for that reason. Laughton is timid, and does not wish to die. He is also anxious for his mother, who is beside herself with fear for him. So he takes the deal, which will enable him to be acquitted. But then (after Slezak leaves), Laughton witnesses the execution of several prisoners, including a man he admired - the principal of his school. He rethinks the entire situation. When he is taken to court, in the present of Slezak, the Mayor, a befuddled Coulouris (who tries to prevent him from speaking anymore), and the judge, jury and townspeople, Laughton eloquently explains the forces that drove Sanders to his suicide, and the same evil forces that infected his town. Laughton is acquitted for the murder, and leaves the courtroom. He returns to his classroom with Maureen O'Hara, and gives a final lesson on freedom and patriotism to his students as the Nazis come to rearrest him again. It is a moving and expert conclusion to a fine film.


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