7.6/10
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This Land Is Mine (1943)

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Albert Lory
... Louise Martin
... George Lambert
... Major Erich von Keller
... Paul Martin
... Mrs. Emma Lory
... Professor Sorel
... Mayor Henry Manville
... Prosecutor
... Julie Grant
... Judge (as Ivan Simpson)
John Donat ... Edmund Lorraine
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Storyline

Albert Lory is a teacher at a school in German-occupied France. He is a coward, but he is drawn into the actions of the resistance. Arrested by the Germans because of an alleged murder, a German officer promises him freedom, if he is willing to collaborate against French resistance (by discontinuing his defense speech, which is arousing the citizens in court). Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

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Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

7 May 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esta tierra es mía  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The singing of "Die Lorelei" by the German soldiers was a subtle dig at the anti-semitic regime of the Nazis, since the words were written by banned Jewish poet Heinrich Heine. Many of his books, considered "un-German," were burned in the book-burning episode at Opernplatz, Berlin, Germany, on 10 May 1933. However, his works were so popular that they were still published, but "author unknown" was the listed writer. In his 1821 play "Almansor," Heine also prophetically wrote "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." ("Where they burned books, they will in the end in burn people.") See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning, Albert pours himself a glass of milk, drinks over half the glass and sets the glass down on the table. In the next shot, the glass is full again. In subsequent shots the volume of milk in the glass and the milk bottle inexplicably change. See more »

Quotes

Major Erich von Keller: The sound of the mob, Mr. Mayor. I don't like the way it looks.
Mayor Henry Manville: You don't have to worry now, Major von Keller. Break up the printing press and you break up rebellion.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Inglourious Basterds (2009) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

A Breath of Gallic Fresh Air
29 August 2004 | by See 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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