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Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 25 February 1952 (Norway)
Trailer
2:58 | Trailer
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)
Reviews
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 ... 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

When Happy is being chased through the train yard, he is shown running between two moving trains. In the reverse shot, there is only one train, but then in another shot from the original angle, the second train is back again. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Dick Rennick: A soldier's not much good if he can't find his way back to his own outfit.
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

 
Exceptionally realistic and well-acted anti-war film
31 December 2000 | by zinksterSee all my reviews

Decision Before Dawn, released in 1951--only 6 years after the end of WWII--is set in the final months of that war, and relates the story of three soldiers who go behind German lines as spies. Richard Basehart plays an American intelligence officer, with Oskar Werner and Hardy Kruger as two German POWs who have volunteered to accompany him for reasons of conscience. The protagonist is the Oskar Werner character, playing a young German Medical Corps Non-commissioned officer. In the course of his task, which is to locate a specific Panzer division and report its position back to Basehart, he undergoes a range of experiences that paint a realistic picture of the last days of wartime Germany. His pacifism and loyalty to his country and family (whom he visits) are challenged by his decision to help his American captors and the necessity to perform all that entails. Well acted, scripted and very realistically propped and photographed, Decision Before Dawn ranks very high on the list of thoughtfully made and thought provoking war films.


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