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Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 25 February 1952 (Norway)
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As the US Army approaches Nazi Germany, they recruit German prisoners to spy behind German lines.

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Peter Viertel (screenplay), George Howe (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Basehart ... Lt. Dick Rennick
Gary Merrill ... Col. Devlin
Oskar Werner ... Cpl. Karl Maurer - aka Happy
Hildegard Knef ... Hilde (as Hildegarde Neff)
Dominique Blanchar ... Monique
O.E. Hasse ... Col. Oberst von Ecker
Wilfried Seyferth Wilfried Seyferth ... Heinz Scholtz - SS Man (as Wilfried Seyfert)
Hans Christian Blech ... Sgt. Rudolf Barth - aka Tiger
Helene Thimig ... Fräulein Paula Schneider
Robert Freitag Robert Freitag ... Sgt. Paul Richter (as Robert Freytag)
George Tyne ... Sgt. Griffin
C.A. Amos C.A. Amos ... Himself (as C.A. Amos 1st Lt. USAF)
Harold Benedict Harold Benedict ... Lt. Pete Gevers
H.W. Briggs H.W. Briggs ... Himself (as H.W. Briggs Sgt. USA)
D.G. Devine D.G. Devine ... Lt. Rennick's Driver
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Storyline

WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that "Tiger", who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary "Happy", who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front. Written by Eduardo Casais <eduardo.casais@research.nokia.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A woman's kiss . . . A lighted cigarette - Each had Its meaning! An exciting and realistic story of war . . . of German Prisoners Sent Back Behind Their Own Lines as Agents of the Allies!

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

25 February 1952 (Norway) See more »

Also Known As:

Legion of the Damned See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Oskar Werner signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox but this was the only picture that came out of it. See more »

Goofs

Karl is mistakenly called a corporal. The Luftwaffe uniform that he wears both in the US POW cage and while back in Germany has the rank insignia of an "Obergefreiter", specifically three winged emblems on the collar patches, plain shoulder straps and two chevrons on his left sleeve. Also when the list is checked for his name at the bridge the rank is written down as 'Gfr' (gefreiter) The ranks of Gefreiter, Obergefreiter and Stabsgefreiter (all which were partially identified by chevrons on the sleeve) were not NCOs and had no command authority over other soldiers. They were simply grades of seniority and would be more equivalent to Private First Class (PFC) in the US military. The German rank that is the closest equivalent to Corporal is Unteroffizer. Also, Karl is wearing the medical badge on his right sleeve; Luftwaffe enlisted medical personnel wore the badge on the left sleeve, while Wehrmacht (army) wore it on the right. See more »

Quotes

Col. Devlin: Furthermore, in any disagreement that might come, no matter what, Rennick will always be right. Get that through your head, Barth. Lieutenant Rennick will always be right.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in That Girl: Decision Before Dawn (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Ach, wie ist' möglich dann (Treue Liebe)
(uncredited)
Written by Friedrich Kücken (1827)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
excellent, little-known movie
24 July 2001 | by rupieSee all my reviews

Surprisingly good war film unknown to me before I saw it on American Movie Classics. Cast is excellent. Characters are well-drawn. The film is the best portrayal I have yet seen on celluloid of Germany in its stages of final collapse as the end of WWII nears. Some very impressive interiors are beautifully shot - the cathedral that serves as intelligence hq, and the castle or chateau that is the German command hq. Engrossing story of conflicted loyalties, and good action and suspense as well. I can only add my agreement with the positive comments already entered.


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