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Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 25 February 1952 (Norway)
As the US Army approaches Nazi Germany, they recruit German prisoners to spy behind German lines.

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Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Col. Devlin
...
Cpl. Karl Maurer aka Happy
...
Hilde (as Hildegarde Neff)
Dominique Blanchar ...
Monique
...
Col. Oberst von Ecker
Wilfried Seyferth ...
Heinz Scholtz - SS Man (as Wilfried Seyfert)
...
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 ...
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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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

25 February 1952 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Call It Treason  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

December 8, 1944 was the date on which Karl Maurer (Oskar Werner) is captured in the film; it was in real life the actual date on which Werner deserted from the Wehrmacht. See more »

Goofs

Karl is mistakenly called a corporal. The Luftwaffe uniform that he wears both in the US POW cage and while back in Germany has the rank insignia of an "Obergefreiter", specifically three winged emblems on the collar patches, plain shoulder straps and two chevrons on his left sleeve. Also when the list is checked for his name at the bridge the rank is written down as 'Gfr' (gefreiter) The ranks of Gefreiter, Obergefreiter and Stabsgefreiter (all which were partially identified by chevrons on the sleeve) were not NCOs and had no command authority over other soldiers. They were simply grades of seniority and would be more equivalent to Private First Class (PFC) in the US military. The German rank that is the closest equivalent to Corporal is Unteroffizer. Also, Karl is wearing the medical badge on his right sleeve; Luftwaffe enlisted medical personnel wore the badge on the left sleeve, while Wehrmacht (army) wore it on the right. See more »

Quotes

Lt Pete Gevers: And what are your political convictions?
Sgt. Rudolf Barth aka Tiger: My political convictions? I've never been able to afford any.
Col. Devlin: Then why do you want to work for us?
Sgt. Rudolf Barth aka Tiger: Because you are winning the war. Isn't that a good enough reason?
Col. Devlin: Well, good or bad, I suppose it's a valid one.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hilde (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Ach, wie ist' möglich dann (Treue Liebe)
(uncredited)
Written by Friedrich Kücken (1827)
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User Reviews

 
Exceptionally realistic and well-acted anti-war film
31 December 2000 | by (Winchester, Mass.) – See all my reviews

Decision Before Dawn, released in 1951--only 6 years after the end of WWII--is set in the final months of that war, and relates the story of three soldiers who go behind German lines as spies. Richard Basehart plays an American intelligence officer, with Oskar Werner and Hardy Kruger as two German POWs who have volunteered to accompany him for reasons of conscience. The protagonist is the Oskar Werner character, playing a young German Medical Corps Non-commissioned officer. In the course of his task, which is to locate a specific Panzer division and report its position back to Basehart, he undergoes a range of experiences that paint a realistic picture of the last days of wartime Germany. His pacifism and loyalty to his country and family (whom he visits) are challenged by his decision to help his American captors and the necessity to perform all that entails. Well acted, scripted and very realistically propped and photographed, Decision Before Dawn ranks very high on the list of thoughtfully made and thought provoking war films.


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