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 <email@example.com>
Since the instigation of five Best Picture nominees for the Academy Awards in 1944, this was the first Best Film nominee to only be nominated in one other category. The next instance of this occurred in 1994 when Four Weddings and a Funeral only picked up two nominations (including Best Film). See more »
The shot of the C-47 just before Happy parachutes into Germany shows USAF markings on the fuselage not used until after WWII. See more »
Of all the questions left unanswered by the last war, and probably any war, one comes back constantly to my mind. Why does a spy risk his life. For what possible reason, If the spy wins, he's ignored. If he loses, he's shot.
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A taut story, first-rate acting, and a compelling subject make this film worth seeing.
Espionage/spying is a tricky subject, but "Decision Before Dawn" handles it brilliantly. No flash, no Mata Haris, no absurd coincidences. Weaving human drama and the grim realism of war, this film is that rare gem that manages to teach without preaching.
Among the superb performances is our hero Happy, played with just the right blend of suspense and humanity by Oskar Werner. Happy (an ironic name given to him by his American overseers) is torn between love of his native land and his duty to what is right. Werner walks this tightrope better than most I've seen.
In the end, however, it's the script that is the true gem of the film. Peter Viertel is a master story teller, with such great screenplays as "Saboteur" and "The Hard Way" to his credit. Viertel, with a story by author George Howe, weaves an intricate, but not confusing, narrative of war and devotion and duty. He's one of the few _writers_ I look for when I check out "On TV This Week" on IMDB.
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