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Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, War  |  25 February 1952 (Norway)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,549 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 23 critic

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

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(screenplay), (novel), 2 more credits »
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Title: Decision Before Dawn (1951)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Samantha Eggar, Oliver Reed, John McEnery
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Col. Devlin
...
Cpl. Karl Maurer aka Happy
...
Hilde (as Hildegarde Neff)
Dominique Blanchar ...
Monique
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 ...
Edit

Storyline

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 <eduardo.casais@research.nokia.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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!

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

25 February 1952 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Legion of the Damned  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Col. Von Ecker: I had forgotten that people like that are too weak. They would never have the courage to kill, even if it is to save themselves.
Cpl. Karl Maurer aka Happy: Sometimes it takes more courage not to kill.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hilde (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Ach, wie ist' möglich dann (Treue Liebe)
Written by Kükcken
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Why I give this one a "Ten"
25 April 2004 | by (Arizona) – See all my reviews

Occasionally I rate a film high for personal and sentimental reasons. In this case I am compelled by objective facts to add in the light of greater perspective that I consider this one of the best war movies of all time.

In the first place, the acting is superb. The casting is flawless. The direction is taut, as is the editing. It is filmed in black and white, as it would have to be even today if someone wanted to try a remake. The locations and sets are authentic to a "T." The story itself follows faithfully the text of a book I read as a child (before I saw the film, in fact).

Moreover, I consider it an act of bravery on the part of the film's producers even to begin a project like this so soon after the end of World War II, when passions against the Germans were still running high and mere caricatures of that nation's common people remained the standard for the day (and for years to come).

Oskar Werner in the main role was a brilliant choice, and veterans Richard Basehart and Gary Merrill provide ample evidence that casting proceeded on a basis of resolute excellence and authenticity. I am still blown away by revisiting the "Romantic Road" in Germany and thinking how this movie defined and continued to define for me how recent and ancient history converged along that path.

I cannot praise it enough.


52 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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