7.6/10
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54 user 23 critic

This Land Is Mine (1943)

Approved | | Drama, War | 7 May 1943 (USA)
A mild-mannered school teacher in a Nazi-occupied town during WWII finds himself torn between collaboration and resistance.

Director:

Jean Renoir

Writer:

Dudley Nichols (screen play)
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Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Laughton ... Albert Lory
Maureen O'Hara ... Louise Martin
George Sanders ... George Lambert
Walter Slezak ... Major Erich von Keller
Kent Smith ... Paul Martin
Una O'Connor ... Emma Lory
Philip Merivale ... Professor Sorel
Thurston Hall ... Mayor Henry Manville
George Coulouris ... Prosecutor
Nancy Gates ... Julie Grant
Ivan F. Simpson ... Judge (as Ivan Simpson)
John Donat John Donat ... Edmund Lorraine
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Storyline

The Nazis have just invaded and are now occupying another Western European town in an Allied country, the Nazi District Commadant being Major Erich von Keller. Like other such occupied towns, the Nazis are keeping it a supposed free city in return for citizen cooperation. Some of the town's leading citizens, such as Mayor Henry Manville and the railway station master George Lambert, encourage that citizen cooperation outwardly to maintain peace, while such persons are able to profit individually in being in von Keller's proverbial back pocket. Paul Martin, a railway switch man and George's best friend, has gone even further by befriending occupying German soldiers. On the other side, the school head master, well-respected Professor Sorel, and young schoolteacher Louise Martin, Paul's sister and George's fiancée, openly but quietly resist although do not totally defy Nazi orders. Louise's fellow schoolteacher, middle-aged Albert Lory, is a timid man, his self-admitted cowardice ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"I DON'T BELIEVE IN ANYONE, Even the man I love! (Print Ad- Vancover Sun, ((Vancouver, BC)) 3 July 1943) See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It was originally titled "The Children." See more »

Goofs

Railroad freight cars are of North American style....not European. See more »

Quotes

Professor Sorel: These books must be burnt. Very well then we'll just burn them. We can't resist physically, but morally, within us, we can resist. We contain those books. We contain truth. They can't destroy the truth without destroying each and every one of us. We can keep the truth alive if the children believe in us and follow our example.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: "Somewhere in Europe"- See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinema: Alguns Cortes - Censura II (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Die Lorelei
(1838) (uncredited)
Music by Friedrich Silcher (1838)
Poem by Heinrich Heine (1823)
Played on accordion by Kent Smith and sung by the German soldiers
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User Reviews

A Breath of Gallic Fresh Air
29 August 2004 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

In 1944 Warner Brothers produced, as a pro-Free French propaganda movie, PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE. It was directed by Michael Curtiz, and starred "CASABLANCA" alumni Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. The end result was a mishmash of flashbacks, which failed to deliver the message of our brave allies the Free French. In retrospect, Bogart's subsequent first film with Lauren Bacall, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, was better in presenting the threat of Vichy France in the performances of Dan Seymour and Sheldon Leonard as the local Vichy policemen in Martinique. But the script was better too!

Had Warner Brothers wanted to see a good propaganda film about France under the Nazis, they need only have gone back to 1943 and this gem by the great French director Jean Renoir. Renoir always belittled his films in exile in Hollywood, but THE SOUTHERNER, THIS LAND IS MINE, THE DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, are pretty good films, even if they don't match LES GRAND ILLUSION or RULES OF THE GAME. Not everything by a director can be that great. Here Renoir concentrated on how the occupied French lived under the pressure of the occupying Nazis. From the corrupt Mayor (Thurston Hall, naturally) who is more concerned about the safety of his personal wealth than his neighbors, to the corrupted judiciary (George Coulouris, as a prosecutor fully cooperating with the real authorities) to the frightened and elderly (Una O'Connor, as the mother of Charles Laughton - willing to lie about her neighbors and collaborate if it will protect her son and herself), it is a very sad picture of the reality.

Three characters in particular stand out: Laughton, George Sanders, and Walter Slezak. Laughton is a momma's boy, who is timid. He loves Maureen O'Hara (their second teaming after THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME), but she is more impressed by Sanders, who is involved in running the railroad yard. Slezak, the local Nazi bigwig, makes a habit of showing his "pleasant" side to people like Hall, Coulouris, and Sanders, whom he relies on to make the village run smoothly. So he reassures them about their status and power. But while Hall and Coulouris are corrupt power seekers (or wealth preservers), Sanders has a conscience. He is aware of the Free French fighters, and is aware why they are sabotaging his rail yard, to prevent materiel and men to help the German war effort. When he helps the Nazis kill several (including an old friend) he commits suicide in his office. But this is a Renoir movie...he takes a leaf from the conclusion of Le Grand Illusion. There Eric von Stroheim is forced to kill his French aristocratic counterpart who seemed to be trying to escape. When Pierre Fresney dies, von Stroheim destroys the one element of beauty - a flower - in the drab castle/prison he runs. In THIS LAND IS MINE, a sad faced Sanders opens his office window wide, and releases his pet birds. After he watches them fly away, he kills himself. It makes his end more unbearable to watch that.

Laughton is accused (due to circumstances) of the "murder" of Sanders. As he is a popular teacher, Slezak figures out that he might be amendable to a deal for his life, and visits him for that reason. Laughton is timid, and does not wish to die. He is also anxious for his mother, who is beside herself with fear for him. So he takes the deal, which will enable him to be acquitted. But then (after Slezak leaves), Laughton witnesses the execution of several prisoners, including a man he admired - the principal of his school. He rethinks the entire situation. When he is taken to court, in the present of Slezak, the Mayor, a befuddled Coulouris (who tries to prevent him from speaking anymore), and the judge, jury and townspeople, Laughton eloquently explains the forces that drove Sanders to his suicide, and the same evil forces that infected his town. Laughton is acquitted for the murder, and leaves the courtroom. He returns to his classroom with Maureen O'Hara, and gives a final lesson on freedom and patriotism to his students as the Nazis come to rearrest him again. It is a moving and expert conclusion to a fine film.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Latin

Release Date:

7 May 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Land Is Mine See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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