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
In the initial scenes on the village, an advertisement for War Bonds can be seen on a wall. Although the French government sought funds from its population during the First World War (through National Defense Loans), it would not have occurred in the Second World War as France was so quickly defeated and occupied. The advertisement in this movie therefore is more likely to be a near-subliminal appeal to the American population to purchase War Bonds to support the US effort. See more
Mrs. Emma Lory
Why don't they bomb Germany, young woman?
Every factory and railroad in Europe is Germany, Mrs. Lory, until the Germans are driven out.
Music by Friedrich Silcher (1838)
Poem by Heinrich Heine
Played on accordion by Kent Smith
and sung by the German soldiers See more