49 user 15 critic

36 Hours (1964)

Approved | | Thriller, War | 19 February 1965 (USA)
2:52 | Trailer
Germans kidnap an American major and try to convince him that World War II is over, so that they can get details about the Allied invasion of Europe out of him.


George Seaton


George Seaton (screen play by), Roald Dahl (based on "Beware of the Dog" by) | 2 more credits »





Cast overview, first billed only:
James Garner ... Major Jefferson Pike
Eva Marie Saint ... Anna Hedler
Rod Taylor ... Major Walter Gerber
Werner Peters ... Otto Schack
John Banner ... Ernst
Russell Thorson ... General Allison
Alan Napier ... Colonel Peter MacLean
Oscar Beregi Jr. ... Lt. Colonel Ostermann (as Oscar Beregi)
Ed Gilbert ... Captain Abbott
Sig Ruman ... German Guard
Celia Lovsky ... Elsa
Karl Held Karl Held ... Corporal Kenter
Martin Kosleck ... Kraatz
Marjorie Bennett ... Charwoman
Henry Rowland ... German Soldier


In this psychological war-drama an Army Major is captured by the Germans during World War II. They attempt to brainwash him into believing the war is over and that he is safe in an Allied hospital, so that he will divulge Allied invasion plans. Written by Patrick Dominick <p-dominick@adfa.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"Give Me Any American for 36 Hours And I'll Give You Back a Traitor" See more »


Thriller | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The production license required any evidence that Yosemite was ever transformed into Bavaria, or the Wawona Hotel into an Allied Military Hospital had to be totally removed within 24 hours after the "36 Hours" exodus. Compliance with this condition was the only way Producer William Perlberg could get into the National Park area for his picture. See more »


As with many World War II films made in the 1950s and 1960s, the makers were careless with women's clothes and hairstyles. The women in the Lisbon restaurant were wearing 50's dresses and Eva Marie Saint's hairstyle is definitely 1960's. See more »


Otto Schack: [to Gerber] Take my advice; don't try to be a leader. I have discovered it's much safer to be a follower.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Referenced in Stargate SG-1: Out of Mind (1999) See more »


March: News of the Day
Music by John Rochetti
See more »

User Reviews

Excellent Thriller, Wonderfully Retro
20 April 2005 | by telegonusSee all my reviews

36 Hours is a beautifully made thriller about an American major captured by the Germans in World War II not long before D-Day, and who is drugged and made to age artificially, so that when he wakes up he thinks five years have passed, that the war is over, and that the Americans won. A fake military hospital was made to convince him that this is so, complete with fake newspapers, reporting on the activities of President Wallace, with references to the retired FDR vacationing happily in Warm Springs. The idea behind it all is to get the major to spill the beans about where the Allied troops were going to land in France (indeed, the major does know this, and the Germans know he knows). In this respect the movie is based pretty much on fact. The Germans knew that there was going to be an Allied invasion of the Continent, most likely in France,--but where? Most of the German high command expected the Allies to land in Calais, but they weren't sure. Everything hinged on outfoxing the Allies, so that the Germans would be prepared for what they knew was going to be a massive invasion. But back to the movie: a friendly-seeming doctor, excellently played by Rod Taylor, explains to his "patient", quite convincingly, how he came to "lose" five years of his life. The race is on to find out the truth, only at first the major doesn't know it. He believes what the doctor tells him; but the doctor has his problems, too, which is how to tactfully get the information he needs from his "patient" (actually his captive) without the major knowing it.

James Garner is fine as the major; so good in fact as to make me wonder why his movie career wasn't more successful. Eva Marie Saint is her usual dignified self as the "love interest", though I found her character, once the truth is revealed about her background, hard to believe. Taylor's doctor is much more interesting, but alas gets less screen time. His character is ambiguous; a German-American who has returned to his homeland, where he has managed to get funds to do research, and who is slowly but surely becoming disenchanted with his Nazi superiors. The movie works like a charm for its first roughly two thirds and then falls off somewhat near the end, for reasons I won't give away. Overall, though, this is a very satisfying and somewhat neglected film. Though it doesn't appear to be made on a big budget it's very good in recreating the wartime mood, and in this respect wonderfully retro. It probably seemed a bit old-fashioned when it came out, when James Bond was all the rage; but time has been kind to it, and it plays better today than many of the more hip, sexy movies of the Austin Powers sixties.

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English | German | Portuguese | French

Release Date:

19 February 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thirty Six Hours See more »

Filming Locations:

Lisbon, Portugal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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