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The Moon Is Down (1943)

During the Nazi occupation of Norway, a small Norwegian village struggles to cope with the invaders and some locals choose collaboration while others prefer armed resistance.


Irving Pichel


Nunnally Johnson, John Steinbeck (novel)
2 wins. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Cedric Hardwicke ... Col. Lanser
Henry Travers ... Mayor Orden
Lee J. Cobb ... Dr. Albert Winter
Dorris Bowdon ... Molly Morden
Margaret Wycherly ... Mme. Sarah Orden
Peter van Eyck ... Lt. Tonder
William Post Jr. ... Alex Morden
Henry Rowland Henry Rowland ... Capt. Loft
E.J. Ballantine ... George Corell
Hans Schumm ... Capt. Bentick
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Frederic Brunn Frederic Brunn ... German Soldier (as Frederick Brunn)
Ernst Deutsch ... Maj. Hunter (as Ernest Dorian)
Ludwig Donath ... Hitler's Voice (as Louis Donath)
Learn more

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When the Germans invade Norway their Commandant and the town Mayor confront each other, attempting to maintain civility as far as possible. When the army tries to orgnanize townspeople to work for them sabotage which is at first humorous turns serious, resulting in death on both sides. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Out of all the courage in the world today...A Great Picture Had to Come! See more »


Drama | War


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Did You Know?


The German occupation of Norway began with the invasion on April 9, 1940, and lasted to the end of the war in May, 1945. The size of the occupation force was immense--upward of 300,000 troops, or the equivalent of about 20 army divisions, enough for one soldier for every seven to eight Norwegian citizens. See more »


Most of the German soldiers are wearing WWI-style Stahlhelm helmets, not the WWII version used from 1935 on. Also, paratroopers (Fallschirmjagers) are shown, but none of the German troops are wearing their helmet - without the projecting visor and flared rim. See more »


Lt. Tonder: Last night I dreamed that Hitler was crazy!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown with a hand gesturing to a map of Norway, indicating what is about to take place in the film. See more »


Ja, vi elsker dette landet (Yes, we love this country)
National anthem of Norway
Music by Rikard Nordraak
Lyrics by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
See more »

User Reviews

Powerful story of humans versus governments and war
2 January 2017 | by morrisonhimselfSee all my reviews

"Haven't we some little right to life?"

To that question by one of the characters in the Nazi-conquered Norwegian town, actually, no, not when governments say "Fight. Destroy. Kill."

When governments say "You must have a number" and "You must carry this card embossed with that number" or "You must wear this uniform" and "You must kill that other human being," you are being considered as property, and that means you no longer have rights.

At least that is how governments want you to believe.

You are expected to obey, not think. Obey, not have desires of your own. You are a cog in the great machinery of the state.

"The Moon Is Down" was intended specifically as anti-Nazi propaganda, coming as it did shortly after the United States entered World War II, but there is a deeper and more universal meaning.

Even Nazis, or at least German soldiers lured or forced into war by German leaders of the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazis, have some vestiges of humanity -- at least some of them.

Told their lives belong to the state, to the fatherland, and that they must act, even die, for purposes of the Master Race, and not to think of or for themselves, still sometimes selfish desires rise to the fore, and such basics as love or freedom motivate more than do orders.

Death and destruction are inevitable results of the subordination of individuals and individuality to the state, to the society, to the race.

Humanity's bloodiest century, the twentieth, proved the truth of that statement with the rise of Nazism and Communism, both of which demanded the submersion of individuals into the mass.

When individual humans no longer matter, mass murders become mere matters of strategy, or "the continuation of politics by other means," as von Clausewitz is quoted.

Few movies illustrate the horror and degradation of war and governments better than "The Moon Is Down," which was presented on Turner Classic Movies the night of 2 January 2017. I had read the John Steinbeck book decades ago and not appreciated that message, not even seen it, that early in my life.

Now, though, after long years lived with the threat of war or some act of tyranny hanging over me nearly every day of that time, I do appreciate the tale and its moral, or at least the moral I now see.

Steinbeck wrote this, a good summation of the meaning of "The Moon Is Down": "Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars."

We are engaged on a daily basis in an ongoing war of individualism versus a leader, versus the mob, versus the collective, versus the state, or, especially these last few decades, versus a murderous and destructive movement some try to call a religion.

I would like to recommend "The Moon Is Down" in both book and movie form, not for entertainment, since there is no joy or pleasure in either, but for the object lesson: Do not let politicians and governments control your life.

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Release Date:

29 July 1943 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

The Moon Is Down See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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