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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
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 »
Exceptionally realistic and well-acted anti-war film
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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