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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

Based on a true story. Towards the end of the war, Allied military intelligence services did recruit, train and utilize German POWs to return to Germany and spy for them. 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

Lt Pete Gevers: And what are your political convictions?
Sgt. Rudolf Barth aka Tiger: My political convictions? I've never been able to afford any.
Col. Devlin: Then why do you want to work for us?
Sgt. Rudolf Barth aka Tiger: Because you are winning the war. Isn't that a good enough reason?
Col. Devlin: Well, good or bad, I suppose it's a valid one.
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

Harrowing experience
31 May 2004 | by steve-1338See all my reviews

For anyone who is used to freedom, this movie shows better than any other what it is like to live in a total police state. The Thousand-Year Reich is shown with every wart and blemish, making this one of the greatest propaganda movies for freedom. But it is a harrowing experience, a true thriller. For the life of me, I cannot understand why this film is not better known and why it is hardly available in public libraries. Could this reflect the conservative, McCarthyite influence on movies? I think it is a must-see.


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