During the German occupationm Emile-Georges De Meyst wrote for the underground press, and in July 1944 he came up with the idea of shooting in secret a fiction film about the Resistance. By pretending to make cultural documentaries he built up a stockpile of film and he and René Herdé (who was to play the leader of the network) then concocted a script about the evil deeds of drug traffickers. Caution was indeed called for, since the sound engineer turned out to be an infamous collaborator. Shooting began during the final weeks of the Occupation with most actors believing they were playing in a crime movie. The Liberation of Brussels afforded the opportunity to shoot the uniformed sequences and De Meyst rapidly completed what was to be the first feature film on the Resistance. See more »
These "soldiers without an uniform" are Belgian resistant fighters.
Today the story behind the scenes has become more interesting than the movie itself:a work made clandestinely under the Nazi's very nose;the screenplay was supposed to be a simple thriller,with a whodunit (there's a murder made to look like a suicide and the policemen investigate.
The actors did not really know what they were playing ,they thought they were policemen and they actually were men of the Gestapo;additional scenes were made when the country was liberated .
It may account for the sometimes old-fashioned performances of the actors (the chief of the Gestapo ,a caricature à la Papa Schulz is guaranteed to generate horselaughs every time he appears ,yelling "We can make you talk! " "We are always right!" );this may also account for the blatant lack of motives :Mrs Watson breathes her regret and just before dying,tells her distraught love that "we do not master our destiny";Regis ,the traitor ,has a terse "you have to live".
The movie may seem imperfect,and it obviously is,but it deserves to be watched for its sheer chutzpah value.
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