Edge of Darkness (1943) Poster

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A brave and interesting film!
Nazi_Fighter_David9 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
The heroic resistance of the occupied Norway attracted, for some reason, a fair amount of interest, in "The Commandos Strike At Dawn,"

"The Moon Is Down," and "Edge of Darkness."

Lewis Milestone, who has made the pacifist "All Quiet on the Western Front, is a key figure in crusading films about war..

His "Edge of Darkness" is a brave and interesting film ,and a touching tribute to Norwegian courage during the Nazi occupation...

The characterization is cleverly drawn: Errol Flynn, the fisherman who assumes command of the resistance in his small Norwegian village; Ann Sheridan, the willful and obstinate daughter of the respected physician Walter Huston who didn't want to know but is led inexorably to aid the resistance after his innocent daughter is brutally raped by a German soldier; Ruth Gordon, his shy retiring wife, as the neurotic mother who lives in dreams of the past; her greedy brother, the opportunistic businessman Charles Dingle who owns the cannery which employs most of the villagers, a traitor who "deals in facts... The future is with the New Order."

After the battle between the German garrison and the townspeople, when all his hopes and dreams are shattered, he wanders through the devastated village claiming it as his own: "It's mine, it's all mine", he cries with mad irrational eyes to a German patrol... Of course he is shot down...

Another characters in the movie: John Beal, the weak and traitorous son; an innkeeper (Judith Anderson) whose hatred of the enemy is intensified by their killing of her husband; and a courageous schoolmaster (Morris Carvosky), whose ivory tower is completely smashed...

The most interesting feature of the film is in its declination of social structure... The capitalist Dingle, is recognized by the brutal Nazis; the humble fisherman Flynn becomes the leader of the underground movement...

All the peacetime hierarchies are overturned: the lovely Ann Sheridan is capable to fall in love with Flynn, who, in peacetime, would have been untouchable..

Decision-making is no longer the exclusive right of the town elders, but of everybody... All the villagers must be involved... In the church they gather to decide whether or not to accept British guns and bullets... It is a matter for the villagers to decide by concord of opinion... They talk until they have agreed..

The film ends with the marching into the hills to continue their resistance... Walter Huston stumbles and falls... Flynn and his fiancée rush to help him up... He protests, "I can manage alone!" They persist, and as they hold him between them, Flynn says, "There is no need to walk alone."
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Comment on Roosevelt's over voice at the end of the film.
wgmcs66 August 2004
I am old enough to have seen "Edge of Darkness" first run during WWII, and believe me this was a powerful movie for a 13 year old during the war. I've always remembered the effect of President Roosevelt's over voice message at the end of the film. For those who haven't seen this film the message was an excerpt from a speech he made probably in late 1940 or 41, and it refers to the resistance of the people of Norway to the occupation by the Nazis. I wouldn't doubt that it is possible that this speech was the inspiration for the novel from which the film is based. Yes, the way this over voice was used was a wartime "message" or propaganda if you will, but having seen and re-seen every war film made during WWII, I think this was about the best use of wartime messages.
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My Favorite WW II Movie of all time
rollo_tomaso14 May 2001
From the mystery of the first scene, you know that this is not just another war movie. This dealt honestly and on a raw level with the gut-wrenching issues that emerge when a country is occupied by a people not very much unlike themselves. Both sides try to reconcile the apparent incongruities to peacefully co-exist and yet allow the Norwegians to keep their basic human dignity, but alas the positions are inevitably irreconcilable. Because the emotions it portrays are so genuine and honest, this is one of the best propaganda films made by the allies while the war was still ongoing. Nancy Colman and Judith Anderson are standouts in a uniformly excellent cast. I consider this the perfect war film.
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Norwegian Resistance
bkoganbing23 December 2005
One of the things that all of the films about Norway during World War II fail to mention is why the Nazis were there in the first place. All of the Scandinavian countries would have gladly sat out this war as they did World War I. In fact all, but Sweden got into it for various reasons.

In the case of Norway, it's simply the long Norwegian coastline. Even before the Soviet Union was invaded, Hitler saw the necessity of preventing supplies from getting to the Soviets should they break the Hitler-Stalin pact and enter the war on the allied side. The convoy route used was the one into the Arctic Ocean into Archangel and Murmansk. No other route was possible for American lend lease. The Nazis operated bases from Norway and sank a lot of allied shipping in the North Atlantic.

So this is why this small village and so many others like it were occupied and why the country was invaded. The Norwegian people from the king and queen on down, knew their country was in a sideshow theater, yet they did resist as best they could.

In fact Mr. Churchill did mount a counterattack in Norway, but the invasion failed and British troops had to withdraw. From time to time he brought up freeing Norway during allied conferences, but could get no support for it from Roosevelt or Stalin.

Errol Flynn stars in Edge of Darkness and the usual Flynn derring-do is kept on hold. Probably in keeping with the stoical nature of Scandinavian character. He's not exactly Captain Blood in this one. He's a fisherman, but his natural qualities of leadership come through as he leads the resistance.

Edge of Darkness is the story of one coastal Norwegian village who put up with Nazi occupation beyond what was humanly bearable. The rape of Ann Sheridan finally touches off a revolt.

It's not a star vehicle per se. Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan have a great deal less dialog than they would in most films. Edge of Darkness is a study of the various townspeople and the way each one of them deals with the Nazi occupation.

Walter Huston and Ruth Gordon are the parents of Sheridan and John Beal. Huston is the town doctor and tries to remain above the battle. Gordon, like Patricia Collinge in The Little Foxes, retreats into nostalgia. Sheridan is a resistance member and Beal was an informer in Oslo, but only the immediate family know it at first.

However the performance I like the best is Charles Dingle's. Dingle has always been one of my favorite character players ever. He's Gordon's brother, the owner of the cannery, and he quite deliberately chooses to collaborate with the Germans. He's the kind of villain you love to hate as is Helmut Dantine the commanding officer of the Nazi garrison.

We learn Dingle's fate at the beginning of the film and as the action unfolds in flashback the audience really rejoices in that fate.

No mistake about it, Edge of Darkness is a World War II propaganda film, but still entertaining today
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Norway Stands Proud
herbqedi5 May 2002
This terrific movie is remarkable for many things. It holds you in a vice-like grip from its unforgettable beginning. Nazi troops see the old flag of Norway flying and go to investigate but find hardly anyone still alive. Helmut Dantine is remarkable as one of the most humane and believable Nazi captains ever portrayed on film. The Germans have some respect for the Norwegians, some but perhaps not enough. Attempts to interact and work together are sabotaged by irreconcilable differences. The camera work and score are both magnificent. One interesting thing here as the movie's nominal star, Errol Flynn (playing a Norwegian named Gunnar (!) ), takes a back seat to riveting and magnificent performances by the supporting cast. Special standouts, besides Dantine, include Judith Anderson, Walter Huston, Nancy Coleman, Ann Sheridan, and John Beal. Watch it and you will never forget it.
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Superb story, director and actors
cjohnson194319 April 2005
I keep a list of 100 all time favorite movies. This movie is in the top fifty. It has superb actors: Walter Houston, Ruth Gordon, Errol Flynn, etc. The Director did an excellent job. The movie shows that humans, when beaten down too harshly, will rise up, if given the opportunity, to destroy the oppressor and restore freedom of choice. In this case, the German Nazis brutally oppress the Norwigans of a small fishing village. The full range of human emotions is displayed. This is drama at its best. It would help galvanize a world against the oppressor. After WWII the film is still applicable to world events somewhere. It is a great history movie!
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A unique perspective on the battle lines in war
aromatic-227 November 1999
Edge of Darkness is a rare movie that makes you think about it weeks after you've seen it. It is also rare in that 7 or eight of the supporting performances hit much more deeply than the nominal star's. Errol Flynn is the star, playing a character named Gunnar no less, but in many ways, he is almost peripheral to the real life drama and depth of emotions brought to life by the supporting cast. Ann Sheridan, Nancy Colman, and Dame Judith Anderson all bring vividly to life the choices women are forced to make during an occupation, and Walter Huston, Helmut Dantine, John Beal, and Morris Carnovsky are equally memorable in their roles. A must see.
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A Norwegian fishing village faces down the Nazis
blanche-222 September 2007
"The Edge of Darkness" is a 1943 propaganda film about a Norwegian fishing village rising up to fight the Nazis. However, this movie is a cut above other propaganda movies. The cast is excellent, top-notch all the way: Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston, Ruth Gordon, John Beal, Helmut Dantine, Judith Anderson and Morris Carnovsky. Sometimes on the IMDb message board, a poster will ask for opinions on the best ensemble cast ever assembled. This one deserves a mention. It's probably not at the top of everyone's list because it was released while Errol Flynn was fighting statutory rape charges, which was a distraction to audiences, certainly, and also because it followed "Casablanca."

Norway was dragged into the World War II conflict because Hitler was very concerned about protecting the Norwegian shoreline so that the Russians could not receive supplies if they joined the Allies. In the story, the village is being occupied by the Nazis, who are taking the people's shipments of basic necessities and oppressing the entire town by their very presence - curfews, patrols, and the commandeering of the local hotel as their base. Flynn plays the head of the resistance, a brave fisherman named Gunnar Brogge. He is joined in the fight byand by other villagers and by the woman he loves, Karen Stensgard (Sheridan). Her father (Huston) is a doctor who, like many others, has been content not to make waves; his wife (Gordon) longs for the days before the war when the family was together. Karen, however, has no such wish - her brother, Johann (John Beal) is a weakling who collaborated with the Nazis in Oslo. Hearing that he's returning home, she warns the resistance group that he could cause problems. Meanwhile, the group waits to receive a shipment of arms so that they can fight effectively.

The director, Lewis Milestone, has created an atmosphere where one feels the oppression, fear and frustration of these simple people. There are powerful scenes that demonstrate the viciousness of the Nazis, led by Helmut Dantine. One scene is off-camera - the rape of Karen. As another poster here commented, she of course looks fabulous when she returns to the group - some dirt smudges and her beautiful hair falling around her face. That is really the one false note in this story of great bravery.

The entire cast is terrific, led by Flynn, who demonstrates quiet strength and determination as Gunnar. This is really an ensemble piece, however, and Flynn and Sheridan do not overwhelm the production. Walter Huston again demonstrates his brilliant acting skills as a man trying to stick it out without having a high profile, and Gordon is sympathetic as his wife, who yearns for the family moments that are now gone. All of the roles, including the smaller ones, are essayed beautifully.

I am sure that this film was very inspirational when first seen, particularly the radio message from Roosevelt at the end of the movie. "Edge of Darkness" is a compelling story about the effect of the war and occupation on the average person.
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Powerful WWII film
dallen7759 October 2002
This is a pretty powerful film with star performances to match. I usually don't care for flash backs, but don't give up on the film, the beginning does NOT give away the end. This isn't a Can't-Miss-Classic like Casablanca, but it's very well worth the watching. I gave it an 8.
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Look to Norway...........
Warning: Spoilers
Edge of Darkness is what Hollywood used to be about. Younger viewers will probably be shocked that indeed movies were once made that extolled virtues such as self sacrifice, heroism, patriotism and courage against overwhelming odds. While the setting is in Norway, it reflects what America once believed. There is no political correctness here. Pacifists and collaborators are viewed as traitors. Tolerance for the invader is unthinkable.

Told in flashback we learn that a small Norwegian village has been under German occupation for several years. The Germans routinely harass, abuse and generally ride rough shod over the locals whose tempers have reached the boiling point. The Germans feel free to take what they please while the inhabitants struggle to exist.

Slowly but surely the villagers, led by Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn) began fighting back by engaging in acts of sabotage, defiance and even assassination. The Germans counter with ever harsher regulations and measures. After receiving guns from the British, the people rise up and engage their oppressors in a climactic battle of annihilation. Yes, there was a time when guns were recognized as instruments of freedom.

The performances in this film were outstanding. One can only cheer when Karen Stensgard (Ann Sheridan) proclaims "To a free Norway". Equally good performances were wrought by Helmut Dantine, Walter Huston and Richard Fraser. I particularly enjoyed Frasers transformation from a meek pastor who wants peace at any price, to a Tommy Gun toting avenger who saves the lives of soon to be executed hostages. Equally impressive is Hauptmann Koenig's (Helmut Dantine) wide eyed frightful exclamation, "You didn't see them, they just kept coming and coming...", when his headquarters is under siege.

Very effective was the soundtrack which was dominated by the strains of "A mighty Fortress is our God".

As the movie concludes we hear the voice of FDR invoking viewers to "Look to Norway" if they doubt why we were engaged in that titanic endeavor known as World War II..
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Lewis Milestone's WWII Masterpiece Still Packs A Big Wallop
oldblackandwhite7 September 2011
Edge Of Darkness is one of the most underrated movies by one of the most underrated directors, Lewis Milestone. This World War Two "propaganda" piece or morale builder rises far above its genre in the hands of the cinematic master best known for his magisterial World War One picture All Quiet On The Western Front. The story of a revolt brewing against Nazi occupiers by the people of a Norwegian fishing village, scripted by Robert Rossen, is reeled out in Milestone's fluid, sensuous cinematic style with spellbinding suspense from beginning to end. Sets are first rate, with the magic of Old Hollywood art transforming the California coast into a misty Scandinavian fjord.

Leading man Errol Flynn turns in perhaps his best job of acting. His dashing image is completely lost in the role of a humble fisherman not entirely confident as the leader of the local Resistance movement. No dashing uniform here, just a pea coat and a plain merchant sailor's cap. And no mustache! Flynn and leading lady Ann Sheridan both turn in the solid, understated performances their roles called for, but it is a superb cast of supporting players that really shines in this one. One of the great charms of this memorable movie is the rich character development amongst the supporting parts. Walter Huston, as the town doctor trying to sit the fence, and Judith Anderson, as a Resistance worker hopelessly in love with a German soldier, are dominating as always. But the show is practically stolen by Roman Bohnen, as a henpecked, middle-aged store keeper with dreams of glory, and the ubiquitous Henry Brandon, as a suave SS officer who may not be all he seems. Helmut Dantine, a refugee Austrian anti-Nazi in real life, plays the German commandant with razor-edge ruthlessness. Likewise outstanding are Ruth Gordon as the doctor's sadly unbalanced wife, Charles Dingle as her Quissling brother, John Beal as her wavering Quissling son, and Nancy Coleman as the commandant's frightened Polish mistress. Monte Blue, Frank Wilcox, Art Bridge, and Morris Carnovsky add their always reliable presences. Thanks to consummate acting skill, Rossen's intelligent script, and Milestone's precise direction, you will come to know these characters as well as your neighbors by the shattering end of this two hour movie.

Franz Waxman's florid score themed on Martin Luther's stirring hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is My God" with snatches from Wagner sweeps the action along to a rousing climax.Sid Hickox is credited for the sublime cinematography, but as I have stated elsewhere (see my review of The General Died At Dawn), Milestone's graphic statement was the same no matter who was behind the camera or in the editing room. Sweeping camera, silky smooth scene changes with creative dissolves, panning mise-en-scene were all the master's trademarks -- much imitated and highly influential on the film noir style that came to dominate pictures of all genres during the 1940's. Notice how at the beginning of the final scene in Edge of Darkness the flapping flag dissolves into a sheet of paper in a typewriter!

Edge of Darkness is a classic of the war/intrigue genre and one of the great movies of all time. First rate Old Hollywood entertainment from the master Lewis Milestone.
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An excellent WWII propaganda film that improves with each viewing despite some heavily melodramatic elements throughout...
Peter Andres1 December 2006
When I first saw this film a few months ago, I found it a bit tedious in places and its melodramatic elements laughable. However, I decided to view the film again recently and I appreciated the film all the more. Yes, it's Hollywood propaganda and the story borders on fantasy, but it's a thoroughly entertaining film once you're familiar with the complex story.

The acting, direction, writing, cinematography, and editing are all excellent. Under Lewis Milestone's atmospheric direction, all the performances are sincere and almost never forced--particularly Ruth Gordon, Nancy Coleman, and Morris Carnovsky in supporting roles, who are my favorite performers in the film. The writing is natural and the characterizations are believable enough. The film's most memorable aspect is the brilliant black-and-white cinematography by Sidney Hickox, relying on zoom effects, focus depth, tracking shots, close-ups, and many other imaginative devices in order to make this film entirely watchable from beginning to end. It's a pity that the cinematography did not earn an Oscar nomination. The film has the usual fast-paced Warner Bros. editing techniques that were a trademark of the studio's films at the time. The Martin Luther hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is put to stirring use throughout the film's score.

The climactic town revolt is very exciting and Lewis Milestone's directing skills are up to his very best capabilities here. The actions sequences, while not graphic or bloody, are up the level of the best action-packed war films. It is an extremely suspenseful, visually compelling sequence that lasts almost a half-hour.

However, there are drawbacks to this film. Franz Waxman, my least favorite classic film composer, adds a mostly forgettable and intrusively melodramatic score that's bound to provoke laughter rather than chills or tears. The film would've been better if Erich Wolfgang Korngold or Max Steiner offered their composing talents to the film and used a subtler score instead. Also, too many character situations make the story a bit confusing in places. One minor quibble is that Ann Sheridan, even after her character is raped off-screen by a German soldier, always looks glamorous no matter what happens. But despite these drawbacks, you'll be rewarded after the film is over.

All in all, this is a very entertaining Hollywood propaganda film that still holds up well today despite the melodramatic elements and bad timing of the film's release. However, the story of a fictional Norwegian town and how its citizens respond to the evil Nazi conquerors makes a very powerful, if a bit far-fetched, film concerning themes of fighting against oppression and loyalty towards one's country.
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One of the best WWII American propaganda films
MartinHafer22 September 2007
The term 'propaganda' has generally taken on a very negative connotation, though propaganda can be a very good thing--such as in the case of EDGE OF DARKNESS. Here is a film that did an excellent job of rallying the audience for the war effort against the Nazis. The emotional impact is great--mostly due to exceptional writing, production values and a nice ensemble cast. I'm sure when audiences left the theaters, they often were energized and it gave them a sense that "we're all in this together".

Errol Flynn is cast in the lead as a Norwegian patriot who is slowly and very covertly trying to plan for a rebellion against their Nazi overlords. Interestingly, while Flynn and the rest do not sport Norwegian accents, the film (and in particular, Flynn's performance) is generally understated. This helped make the film seem more realistic and heightened the emotional impact.

In addition to Flynn, the film also stars Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston and Ruth Gordon. However, unlike most Warner Brothers films of the day, the usual cast of supporting actors (Allen Jenkins, Frank McHugh, Alan Hale and the rest) are absent. This was a good decision, as the usual "comic relief" style of support is --replaced with a gritty yet believable group of actors.

What I also liked about the film was that while the Nazis were very brutal and evil, they were not quite so over-the-top as they were in many propaganda films of the day. Yes, they murdered and even raped, but the whole thing was handled more realistically than many films--the Germans were not parodied or ridiculous--making them all the more scary.

The film ends with a terrific final confrontation scene between the Norwegians and the Nazis. It was very deftly filmed and was super-exciting.

All in all, this is one terrific film--mostly due to realism and excellent performances all around--from direction to sets to writing to acting to cinematography. A real stand out among the crowded pack of American WWII films.
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By Odin's Light Valhalla is Filled
Melvin M. Carter29 April 2005
Far superior to Commandoes Strike At Dawn and The Moon Is Down,by Columbia and Twentieth century Fox respectively, the common theme is Norway and light. Lewis Milestone whose viewpoint seemed to be no matter what flag an army is a marching beast of destruction composed of individuals of all types giving into the communal need to kill and impose the groups will. Edge of Darkness, though it has the elements that make watching films of this era irksome i.e. pulling grenades with the teeth, only the good guys suffer wounds,stirring speeches for the home audience,it is Milestone grim. The German garrison dies hard taking a heavy toll of villagers, the retaliation their comrades will impose on some hapless Norwegians will be brutal. Juliet Anderson and a German corporal almost share what would be in another, post war film, a romantic relationship but she is filled with patriotic revenge and the lonely corporal becomes a reluctant victim of national resolve similar to what happened in the almost similar film The Moon is Down's ill-fated romance. Errol Flynn is the embodiment of the Noble Cause the other performers play recognizable types stepped on or used by the Enemy. The final battle almost mirrors how WWII eventually ended, with a gradually dwindling,but still war hardened professionals succumbing to the citizen soldiers of the Allies, whose armies had by 1943 become proficient while the Fuhrer's started their decline collapsing into old men and boys leavened with a war weary soldatens trying to stay alive.
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They died with their Swastikas on.
weezeralfalfa20 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
My review title is, of course, a take on the Warners film released 2 years earlier: "They Died With their Boots On", also starring Errol Flynn, as G.A. Custer, and featuring the annihilation of his cavalry command by a confederation of Native Americans attempting to defend their treatied homelands against the illegal invasion of swarms of gold seekers, who generally considered the N.A.s a much inferior race of 'savages', justifying their virtual annihilation, if necessary. Sound familiar? In this powerfully dramatized film, it's the Nazis who are playing the role of Custer and the gold seekers, who feel justified in overrunning the traditional territories of their neighbors, with the ultimate goal of replacing these peoples, considered genetically inferior, if not raving savages, with their own offspring. As in the case of Custer, the natives(Norwegians) have an advantage in a sizable numerical superiority and greater familiarity with the territory, if a marked disadvantage in armaments.

Fulfilling its wartime purpose of encouraging public support to help defeat the Nazis, the film strongly suggests that, with sufficient outside support in smuggled armaments, 'resistance' groups in Nazi-occupied regions might be successful in significant sabotage and passive resistance projects, making a significant contribution toward the ultimate unraveling of the Nazi empire. The film ends with the locally victorious Norwegians trudging off into the forest near their fishing village, fearful of Nazi reprisals for their annihilation of the sizable German garrison, and presumably planning further sabotage operations until the Germans leave. Accompanying this visuals, we hear a historic FDR speech, featuring the plight of the Norwegians, along with a stirring final rendering of the recurring Luther hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" in the background, making the resistance against the Nazis seem more like a 'holy war' against the forces of evil.

This is the only one of the 5 war-propaganda films starring Flynn released by Warners during the war that was not directed by Raoul Walsh. Lewis Milestone was born to Russian Jewish parents, who emigrated to the US when he was a teen. Thus, it's quite understandable that he relished the directing job of several anti-Axis films during the war. As with the present film, "The North Star" emphasizes the hopes and activities of 'resistance' groups within Nazi-controlled regions. The highly acclaimed "A Walk in the Sun" looks at the war from the myopic viewpoint of the ordinary soldier. "The Purple Heart" dramatizes the incarceration and trial of a group of American fliers captured by the Japanese. Like the fanatical Nazi Captain Keonig, in the present film, the fanatical Japanese commander involved commits suicide in the end: his indoctrinated assumption of what American servicemen are like, and the myth of the invincibility of the Japanese armed forces, shattered.

Very ironically, Helmut Dantine, who plays Captain Keonig, imbued with the standard Nazi assumption of racial superiority, was the former leader of Vienna anti-Nazi activists, forced to flee to the US, winding up in LA. He played a similar role in several other wartime films, including "Northern Pursuit", where Flynn again plays his chief nemesis.

The film begins with a Nazi patrol plane (which looks like a slightly modified Lockheed Hudson light bomber, used in several Warner wartime films) observes a Norwegian flag flying over a coastal German garrison, instigating a patrol boat to investigate. They discover the gruesome sight of hundreds of German and Norwegian bodies strewn all over outside and inside the compound and adjacent fishing village. Otherwise , both seem deserted , except for one deranged Norwegian, who is promptly machine-gunned. We will see a similar sight near the end of the film. Meanwhile, the remainder of the film consists of a flashback to events leading up to this massacre.

The bulk of the film consists of characterizations of a spectrum of responses to the Nazi takeover: from outright cooperation with the Nazis, to uneasy neutrality, to determined passive and/or active resistance. Some change their position during the film. Another major section deals with the secret acquisition and hiding of armaments from a British submarine: part of a British plan for a coordinated uprising of all coastal towns against the local Germans. This plan is articulated by a British spy(played by Henry Brandon), as one of the garrison Germans. The last part of the film deals with the actual armed revolt. Although many Norwegians die, some seem immune to the German machinegun fire.

Flynn's character, as the leader of the local resistance group, is named Gunnar, as was the most famous leader of Norwegian resistance(Gunnar Sonsteby), tales of his activities having already reached the outside when this film was scripted... Glamorous-looking Anne Sheridan, as Gunnar's gung-ho 'resistance' girlfriend, makes the most convincing romantic partner for Flynn in his 5 war-propaganda films...Nancy Coleman, who played an anti-Nazi German and Flynn's fleeting romantic interest in the previous "Desperate Journey", here plays the 'kept' Polish mistress of the collective German officers, who mocks them when they are facing annihilation, being shot in response...Richard Fraser plays the conflicted pastor: advocating non-resistance, but firing the first shots of the showdown, when the 'resistance' leaders are about to be executed.

There's so much more to this film, but I'm about out of space.
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Nazi's occupy small town
mrohlee25 August 2001
Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston are all great. The whole aspect of the towns people having to control their anger at the Nazi's is an good plot, and the action scenes are very well done. A very different war movie, well made, nice cast, well written.
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Heroic Norwegian resistance makes strong wartime melodrama...
Neil Doyle18 September 2007
ERROL FLYNN and ANN SHERIDAN are the nominal stars of EDGE OF DARKNESS, but it's a strong character-driven tale that gives interesting supporting roles to a Warner cast of contract players and loan-outs and does not depend solely on Flynn or Sheridan for its impact. It's a WWII tale of Norwegian resistance and it's given Grade A treatment from the studio with some eye-popping camera work under the inspired direction of Lewis Milestone.

WALTER HUSTON is a doctor, at first reluctant to show fierce opposition to the cause; RUTH GORDON is his worried wife; JUDITH ANDERSON is a strong-willed resistance fighter who is also resisting the advances of a Nazi officer; HELMUT DANTINE is once again cast as a hateful Nazi who knows when he's outnumbered; NANCY COLEMAN is his neurotic sweetheart who wants to break away from the Nazi environment and return to Poland; CHARLES DINGLE is the wealthy man who owns the cannery and goes insane when he witnesses the slaughter his village falls prey to.

The drawback is the obvious propaganda tone and overly melodramatic scenes of brutality strongly contrasted by the heroics of the townspeople, including the village pastor. Topping all of these scenes is the final voice-over by no less than F.D.R. praising the Norwegians for their stance against occupied Norway while "A Mighty Fortress" builds up on the soundtrack. Franz Waxman's background score is frequently as melodramatic as the on screen action.

But still, the last forty minutes of the film are comprised of some of the most powerful scenes and gives the whole story the kind of stature it deserves for the final climactic battle scenes.

Summing up: Worthwhile film is gripping at times but weakened by occasional lapses of melodramatic excess, in typical '40s style.
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Norwegian resistance
Daniel Kincaid4 November 2007
"Edge of Darkness" is set in a small Norwegian village during the time of the Nazi occupation of Norway. The film examines the lives of the villagers and their resistance to the Nazis.

Errol Flynn plays Gunnar Brogge, the accepted leader of the villagers. Gunnar isn't as overt as Flynn's Robin Hood or Captain Blood, but this is not surprising considering that he act secretly due to a ubiquitous Nazi presence in the village. Flynn is however, still effective in another of his heroic roles. Two other important villagers are well-played by veterans Ann Sheridan and Walter Huston. Helmut Dantine is notable as the zealous Nazi commander and as is Charles Dingle as an opportunistic village business leader that labels himself as a "man of facts" and collaborates with the Nazis.

While there are some interesting themes, characterizations and scenes like the church scene in the film's first half, the first half as a whole is somewhat plodding. The film's second half is stronger as the Nazis tighten their grip on the village and the villagers mount their opposition. There is a touching sequence in this part of the film where Morris Carnovsky, as an older villager, confronts the Nazi commander on principle and is treated maliciously. In all parts of the film the blaring and marshal score helps to develop the tension the Nazis create. The film's expected final conflict was well-shot and an exciting way to end the film. "Edge of Darkness" is a decent war-time film about opposition to Nazi repression.
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Land of the midnight Hun
LCShackley27 September 2007
We talk about propaganda films here as though they were something of the past, which is funny since (in the fall of 2007) we are about to be bombarded by a whole load of antiwar propaganda films. EDGE OF DARKNESS reminds us that there are things worth fighting for, and that it's not shameful to unite against an oppressor, in this case the Third Reich.

The deftly-written script pulls us into the story slowly, as two German airmen wonder why a Norwegian flag is flying over a town supposedly overrun with Nazis. We're then presented with a mystery: why is this town covered with dead bodies? Why is the Nazi commandant sitting at his desk with a bullet in his head? The scriptwriter then unravels the mystery scene by scene until a very stirring climax.

I am not an Errol Flynn fan and couldn't care less about his private life, so I was not bothered by seeing him in the lead. He gives a very restrained and believable performance as the head of the Norwegian resistance. The supporting players are almost uniformly fine, and the script manages to give us nice character scenes without losing the thread of the plot (for instance, the teacher confronting the commandant and refusing to let the Nazis occupy his house). As others have pointed out, there are moments of sheer melodrama, but director Milestone keeps things moving and helps us to care about the characters.

The only drawback for me was the phoniness of the models used in several places, such as the little toy boats in front of the mock Norwegian backdrop. The town and the buildings look fairly Scandinavian; unfortunately Adolf and friends made it impossible to shoot on location. This is another excellent war picture about how common people stood up to the enemy. I would also recommend THE HIDING PLACE and THE TRAIN as other classics in the genre.
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"These fascists will never drive Norwegians out of Norway!"
utgard1421 November 2014
Errol Flynn made some of the best and most exciting WW2 films. Here he's part of an ensemble in this story about a small Norwegian fishing village under Nazi occupation. Many of the villagers want to fight back against their occupiers but they have no weapons. Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan are the two main leaders of this resistance group. Sheridan's father Walter Huston wishes to avoid fighting and wait the war out. Then you have her uncle and brother, who are Nazi collaborators. Eventually tensions within the village boil over and the citizens revolt against the evil Nazis.

The cast is excellent. In addition to the three big stars I list above, who all do commendable work, there's an outstanding supporting cast. Judith Anderson is a ballsy resistance fighter who is in love with one of the Nazis but doesn't let that sway her loyalty. Ruth Gordon gives one of her patented sensitive and soft-spoken performances. Charles Dingle and John Beal play the rat bastards who sell their own out to the enemy. One of them has a moment of redemption by the end. Morris Carnovsky is extraordinary as an elderly man who stands up to the Nazis despite the danger. Roman Bohnen is a scene stealer as a patriot who has to overcome his fear. Helmut Dantine plays the scar-faced Nazi in charge of the occupation. Many other fine actors in small parts, some of whom may only get one scene to make an impact but they make the most of it.

Powerful script, beautiful cinematography, and excellent direction. The climactic battle scene is intense. It's an unflinching war movie with little to no comic relief, a rarity for Warner Bros, who usually threw Alan Hale or somebody into these pictures to add some lighter moments. But this is a serious movie about bravery and the sacrifices that so many made in the war. The story doesn't call for lightheartedness. It's one of the best war movies Flynn or WB made.
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Starkly moving chronicle about the events that happen on a Norwegian little town during Nazi occupation
ma-cortes23 March 2012
A story incomparable of a people unconquerable about the underground movement in Norway , 1942 , based on the novel by William Woods . After two years under German rule , a small Norwegian fishing village rises up and revolts against the occupying Nazis . A fisherman (Errol Flynn) along with his loyal fiancée (Ann Sheridan) leads the local (Walter Huston , Ruth Gordon , Judith Anderson and several others) underground movement against a Nazi nasty captain (Helmut Dantine). The second part is quite starkly moving developing account of deeds that befall about the villagers and when they go into action.

A surprisingly very strong version about Norwegian resistance with career-best interpretations from Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan . With a spectacular opening reminiscent of 'Beau Gest' , the film gets action , pretty downbeat deeds , intense drama with moments of extraordinary power and breathtaking final battle . Although numerous problems happened throughout shooting , this movie contains impressive images and submitted performances . Director tries to expose war for what it is and not glorify it . Very well camera work by cameraman Sidney Hickock . Thrilling and evocative musical score by the classic Franz Waxman . Rating : Above average , the flick earned big high marks for its superb scenarios , credible acting and dramatic scenes .

This War/drama is compellingly directed by Lewis Milestone , he was born in the Ukraine , but emigrated to America at 18 and he served in WWI becoming an assistant director on Army training films . Then War returned and Lewis was in thick of it with several fictional movies and a documentary . He often made chronicles of wartime conflicts and persisted in showing horror war from the point of view of the ordinary soldier . Milestone was using what he felt were the best means at his disposal to express his own philosophies about war in particular . Milestone's niche in movie history is secure with his War films and it is on these pictures that his reputation rests . As he showed WWI , winning Academy Award for ¨All quiet on the western front¨ , and WWII such as ¨Purple heart¨ , ¨Halls of Montezuma¨ , ¨Edge and darkness¨ , the best of which is ¨A walk in the sun¨ with remarkable intensity at times and Korean war as ¨Pork Chop Hill¨ ; and directed several others excellent movies in different fields , dramas as ¨Of mice and men¨ , Noir cinema as ¨Strange love of Martha Ivers¨, adventure as ¨Mutiny on the Bount¨ and heist-comedy as ¨Ocean's eleven¨, among others.

The picture is set during German invasion of Norway and subsequent Nazi conquest , the historical events are the following : The invasion began on April 9, 1940. The German Navy and Airforce led the operation . The Hitler plan relied on surprise to avoid interception by the British and to prevent Norwegian forces from mobilizing. The sudden appearance of naval task forces took Norwegian defenders by surprise and allowed airfields around Oslo , Tondheim and Stevenager to be captured by the German intact. German forces at Trondheim advanced and linked up with forces in Oslo. Norwegian forces in central and southern began to surrender. In northern Norway British and French troops fighting against Germans in Narvik . But the Allied decided to pull out of Norway , evacuating forces from Narvik . After that , Nazi conquest was completed with help some collaborators as the famous ¨Quisling¨ who was a Norwegian prime minister whose collaboration with the Nazis meant his name became a term meaning traitor and in this film is represented by the Walter Huston , Ruth Gordon's son , John Beal .
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Brilliant Cinematography
harry-768 August 2001
Sidney Hickox's cinematography is a fine example of the best of black and white productions of the 30s and 40s. Hickox employs depth of focus, zoom, tracking, black and white noir-style contrasts, minatures, mattes and montages with equal finesse.

Added to this are carefully executed camera angles, which perfectly capture the appropriate moods which Director Lewis Milestone wishes to achieve. It is a film which can give pleasure even with the sound turned off.

Milestone is completely successful in coaching his cast to work in ensemble fashion, which parallels the comraderie of the Norwegian people trying to off-stand the oppressive Nazi troupes which hold the village in captivity.

Milestone's productional team, from the editing and art direction to the set decoration and scoring, are uniformly fine. But I still didn't like it.

Mr. Milestone, in his quest for anti-war themes, to my mind, got carried away with these unpleasant subjects to the point of their becoming an obscession. Throughout his career the returned to these themes, creating technically memorable, but consciously skewed works.

Like all such genre films, Milestone fell into the traditional pitfall: exploiting effect, without delving into cause. True, effects are the stuff of drama, which in turn becomes a commentary on the ultimate limitations of the craft -- or of writers, who either are unwilling or unable to express a rounded portrait of total truth and balanced essences.

"Edge of Darkness" remains a studio propaganda film, intended to mobilize its audience into patriotic thinking and actions. It's all about we-good-they-bad -- without any hint the enactment depicting merely different sides of the same coin.
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propaganda crushes entertainment
Charles Herold (cherold)11 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Edge of Darkness starts well, as Germans enter a Nazi stronghold to find everyone dead. The rest of the movie details how this happened, following the exploits of a bunch of Norwegians determined to fight the Nazis.

So far so good, and the movie is helped by some strong performances. But after a while I began to notice how crazy this Norwegians are for giving speeches. Everything is told in long, declamatory sentences about how they will fight and the will win and they are willing to risk death and all that. This may have been very stirring in the midst of WWII and it may be very good as propaganda but it is terrible as film making.

Some moments were particularly absurd. A man goes to the Nazis and makes a long speech about how he has rights and of course he gets predictably beaten up for it. This is extra stupid because he knows perfectly well that the Norwegians has a cache of weapons and are just waiting for a signal from England to start a mass uprising. Even more stupid is when a Polish girl forced into prostitution by the Nazis starts a speech to the soldiers just before the climactic battle. She gets shot, of course, but if she'd just stayed in her room for another 15 minutes she could have been freed.

I watched this movie because I'm a big fan of Lewis Milestone, the director, but this is far from his best work. I'm surprised by all the favorable reviews on this site; perhaps they're all from people who saw the movie when it first came out and have never forgotten the effect it had on them.
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Quislings Beware!
atlasmb15 November 2014
"Edge of Darkness" is a film built around the meaning of the word "quisling"--one who collaborates with the enemy--and the fact that the word comes from an infamous Norwegian. The story is about a Nazi-occupied Norwegian fishing village during WWII. Since Hollywood produced this film in 1943, it is not surprising that, like all films of the era, it succumbs to propaganda in place of authenticity.

But this film goes completely overboard in its attempts to dramatize the philosophical differences between those who choose freedom versus those who seek to conquer. This is a film of caricatures. At times it has a noir style, but the leaden delivery of the dialogue sinks this film. If you read about the problems that plagued this production (see the trivia notes), you can understand how the performances might be compromised. Ruth Gordon, whose performance I enjoyed the most, said she hated the film.

One major problem is the musical score, which is even more heavy-handed than the script. I have a feeling that the book might be a good read, but its translation to film is over the top. There are some well-written speeches that feel out of place in this corny rendition of wartime resistance. There are many films that do it better, particularly with regard to the French resistance. Or how about "Casablanca"?

Much of the dialogue in this film is laughable, because it forces the characters to say things no one would ever say. "We are soldiers, soldiers of our Fuhrer. These are rebels. They must not win!" I really don't think audiences in 1943 had to be convinced that the Nazis were morally in the wrong. Yet films like this continued to beat them over the head with simplistic pleas that draw the Germans (and Japanese) as evil, sometimes even subhuman, people.

I believe the story is meant to be about bravery and loyalty. It is somewhat successful at that, but the overall film sinks under the weight of its own overdone propaganda.
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A must-see movie
richard-178712 December 2010
During World War II Hollywood, as its contribution to the war effort, made a lot of movies designed to convince Americans to support the war. Some of them can only be excused by the need to convince Americans to win the war at all costs. Others, like Casablanca, will be ranked as among the greatest movies ever made as long as people watch movies.

The Edge of Darkness isn't on a level with Casablanca, but it's not far short of that. The director, Lewis Milestone, had made such great movies as All Quiet on the Western Front and The Front Page. He directs this movie, blessed with a largely great script, with a brilliance and power that is second to none. By the end, even the most convinced pacifist will be clamoring to kill as many Nazis as possible. Even Casablanca and Mrs. Miniver do not stir up a hatred of the Germans the way this does. Like Leni Riefenstals' The Triumph of the Will, this movie shows how passions and hatred can be evoked outside all reason - a very frightening thought.

But everything in this movie is good. Errol Flynn has to act - there is no swinging from vines here - and shows that indeed he can, aided by his magnificent voice. Ann Sheridan, often dismissed as a very attractive pin-up girl, holds her own in the woman's acting division against such powerhouses as Judith Anderson and Ruth Gordon, both of whom turn in masterful performances. Walter Huston is his usual impressive self, as are all sorts of "character actors" who, given real characters to develop here, show just why they are great actors: Morris Carnovsky, Charles Dingle (who has given so many great performances, as in The Little Foxes), even Virginia Christine, who later went on to be Mrs Olson for the Folger Coffee commercials. Because this script is so well written, even the "little people" become outstanding individuals, developed to their fullest by great performers.

It's fairly predictable until the scene when the local schoolteacher is almost killed by the Nazis in public. From the revolt that that triggers through the end of the movie the movie rises to a level of mastery that can't be beat. This movie must have had an overwhelming effect on Americans during the war. Even today, it takes a hold of you and controls your thoughts and feelings no matter how hard you try to resist.

So then. One part Cascablanca, one part Mrs. Miniver, one part The Triumph of the Will, and a lot of just great direction and acting. If you haven't see it, make sure that you do. And make sure you have lots of Kleenex.
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