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.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.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.
Which is why Garner goes to Lisbon to check out a source at the German Embassy in neutral Portugal. But the Nazis have been watching him too. While in Lisbon, he meets up with a Mr. Michael Finn at a hotel bar rendezvous which renders him unconscious and Garner is secretly flown to Germany.
The nice things about 36 Hours is that some of the facts about the landings at Normandy are woven very nicely into an intricate espionage story. Incidentally some of the same facts that were used in another Garner classic film, The Americanization of Emily, but in a far more comic vein.
What the Nazis have decided to do is trick Garner into revealing the plans for the imminent invasion. They've set up an elaborate facade of a US. Army Hospital in an occupied Germany in 1950 and when Garner wakes up, they're going to convince him that the war is over and the allies have been victorious. They've even cooked up a love interest in Eva Marie Saint who is formerly a concentration camp inmate and like all of them will do anything to avoid going back.
All this is the brainchild of German doctor Rod Taylor who is convinced that without the usual Nazi like methods Garner can be tricked into revealing vital information. Skeptical about the plan, but willing to go along with it if it succeeds is SS major Werner Peters who played a lovely variety of Nazis in the Sixties.
Of course when Garner does realize this is all a charade it becomes quite a three cornered cat and mouse game between him and Taylor and Peters. The SS has a tried and true motto, they're skeptical in general about information not obtained under torture.
36 Hours is a finely executed espionage and escape drama. The cast is at they're combined very best. But as good as the ones I've mentioned, there is one stunningly droll performance by John Banner, soon to become Sergeant Schultz on Hogan's Heroes. He plays a German version of Dad's Army and he's one of the older generation that hasn't bought into the Nazi way. He's the best in this fine film.
- Jul 26, 2008