A group of French soldiers during WWII are captured by Nazis troops and sent to a military prison. There they will have to make use of his best resources to keep alive... and sane, while at the same time scheming a way out.
With the onset of World War II, Frenchmen from all walks of life enlist in the army. The war is short-lived however as the Nazis quickly defeat them and Marshall Petain signs a peace agreement with the invaders. The troops surrender but rather that being repatriated to their homes as expected, they all find themselves in a military prison. Conditions are difficult with little food and poor medical conditions. The men resist as best they can and for some, like Paul, they are prepared to spend time in solitary confinement and be subjected to beatings if need be. For others, such as Duval, collaboration with their Nazi jailers is the route to an easier life. The men find solace in the company of Father Sebastian, a priest who was also in the army. He counsels them wisely and in the case of Paul, gives him strength to face the daily challenge of simply living. When Paul gets an opportunity however, he helps his fellow prisoners escape. When they liberate a village, they all realize that ...Written by
[All goofs for this title are spoilers.]
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Jean-Pierre Aumont as the only Frenchman in a French war prisoner film
The film is hopelessly marred and scarred by its propaganda nature, which brands it with a character that debases it for history when the war once is over, which is a pity, for it's a great story with great actors, who all do their best, and there are some instances which are more realism than propaganda, especially towards the end, as the intrigue thickens, when prisoners start to escape.
It's Jean-Pierre Aumont's film, he is the most interesting character, as you never really know where you have him, as he constantly has to change footing according to what is happening around him, while finally his character emerges in full glory. Gene Kelly is also quite good as an impossible slugger who is completely quashed by Peter Lorre and his Germans, but his annihilation is not quite complete. You can't keep down Gene Kelly for long.
It's the boy in the end who introduces the cross of Lorraine and lifts the whole performance to a higher level. This is very far from one of the best war films, but it certainly has some good scenes worth seeing.
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