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John Martin is part of an American spy team dropped into France during World War II to destroy the French railway system. After successfully blowing up a tunnel he runs back to save Ellen and is told "Never come back for me again." Later he must choose whether or not to obey her wishes. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
This film, shot soon after WWII's conclusion, starts out in a semi-documentary fashion, with that time period's usual background commentary, this time applied to the nascent stages of the O.S.S. and how its development would enhance the war effort. However, as the core unit gets trained, it shifts to a pretty decent spy drama, with Alan Ladd and Ms. Fitzgerald taking the leads in their unit's task, which inherently was to supply the Allies with German armored division positions and to facilitate the explosion of a railroad tunnel which had been providing the Germans with their main conduit for battle preparations.
Ladd's gender-biased character doesn't like the fact that he has to work with a woman on such a trying mission, but Ms. Fitz's character isn't falling for his hype, and she soon shows her mettle by performing her assigned tasks more than adequately. It is in this dialog between our two major protagonists that we see just how well our stars (and writers/director) handled their roles. Crisp, articulate dialog sets the pace for their encounters, which was coupled with an intelligent story line, whose development was duly enhanced by the supporting actors as well.
But as my summary title indicates, our "hero" isn't really the prototypical war hero you were used to seeing in movies of that era. Our man Ladd is asked to perform one more task by his CO and he "bites the guy's head off" with a "why me?" diatribe reminiscent of a film more ensconced in the anti-war movies of the 60's-70's. It is Ladd at his vitriolic best, barking at the CO to get somebody else, but the CO has to finally give him an official order, to which Ladd reluctantly assents. This scene ever so realistically shows the reactions of a real human soldier as opposed to some sort of Hollywood hero fabrication.
Other moments of pathos and reality occur, especially between "Sparky" and the unit's radio operator. John Hoyt's fine contribution as the German colonel also merits mentioning.
Although it may not rank amongst your all time favorites list, watch it anyway and if you don't have at least a small well of tears at the film's conclusion... Just maybe "she could have been a girl from around the corner!"
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