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
Did You Know?
The book that Laughton begins reading to his students at the end of the movie is "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" (French: Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen), a fundamental document of the French Revolution. See more
After the initial credits, there is a notation "Somewhere in Europe ...". All the signs and notices are in English so there is no specific country identified this way. The film could be set in Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway or any of the other occupied territories. However, when Professor Sorel, Louise Martin and Albert Lory examine the school textbooks for what must be removed, all the references are to French history and literature, squarely placing the film in France. See more
It's very difficult surgical operation. Cut the heart out without killing the patient. The history of our country, however, is a very tough old patient, and we'll do the best we can.
Music by Friedrich Silcher (1838)
Poem by Heinrich Heine
Played on accordion by Kent Smith
and sung by the German soldiers See more