Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, War  |  25 February 1952 (Norway)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,621 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 24 critic

As the US Army approaches Nazi Germany, they recruit German prisoners to spy behind German lines.



(screenplay), (novel), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Col. Devlin
Cpl. Karl Maurer aka Happy
Hilde (as Hildegarde Neff)
Dominique Blanchar ...
O.E. Hasse ...
Col. Oberst von Ecker
Wilfried Seyferth ...
Heinz Scholtz - SS Man (as Wilfried Seyfert)
Hans Christian Blech ...
Sgt. Rudolf Barth aka Tiger
Helene Thimig ...
Fräulein Paula Schneider
Robert Freitag ...
Sgt. Paul Richter (as Robert Freytag)
George Tyne ...
Sgt. Griffin
C.A. Amos ...
Himself (as C.A. Amos 1st Lt. USAF)
Harold Benedict ...
Lt. Pete Gevers
H.W. Briggs ...
Himself (as H.W. Briggs Sgt. USA)
D.G. Devine ...


WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that "Tiger", who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary "Happy", who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front. Written by Eduardo Casais <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A woman's kiss . . . A lighted cigarette - Each had Its meaning! An exciting and realistic story of war . . . of German Prisoners Sent Back Behind Their Own Lines as Agents of the Allies!


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »




| |

Release Date:

25 February 1952 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Legion of the Damned  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Oskar Werner and Richard Basehart did most of their own stunt work, including jumping in and swimming the fast currents of the Rhine river on location in Germany. See more »


When Happy is being chased through the train yard, he is shown running between two moving trains. In the reverse shot, there is only one train, but then in another shot from the original angle, the second train is back again. See more »


Sgt. Paul Richter: The trouble with me is I want to stay alive. Like most of us, I talk but do nothing.
See more »


Referenced in Hilde (2009) See more »


Ach, wie ist' möglich dann (Treue Liebe)
Written by Kükcken
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User Reviews

What memories this must have dredged up
9 December 2004 | by (Hutto, TX) – See all my reviews

Having served in the US Army-Europe in Germany it was easy to see that this work was an accurate depiction of the world as Germans saw it in those years. Going to the IMDb database confirmed that it was filmed in Wurzberg, a city I visited many times. One can not help but wonder what memories and nightmares came back to life for the German people in this movie, or the ones who viewed it, or even witnessed the movie being made. The film is so very realistic in script, acting, and setting that some must have almost thought WWII was alive again. For those that lived through WWII in that country it must have seemed as if those days were repeating themselves. Every detail of this movie is accurate as far as I could tell. It does not employ overused stereotypes, no action heroes, no earth shaking grand and glorious finale, it simply depicts a period of time in all its' tragedy and irony in a most realistic manner. This work deserves more praise and exposure than it has received. A must see for every WWII researcher and historian.

54 of 56 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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