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During World War II, Johann Moritz (Anthony Quinn), a Romanian gentile peasant, whose pretty wife is lusted after by the village gendarme, is denounced as being Jewish, arrested, and sent to a concentration camp. In the camp, the camp commander mistakes him for a new recruit, a volunteer to the S.S. and he is drafted into the S.S. Ironically, after the war, he is detained by the Allied authorities for his wartime involvement with the S.S.Written by
Quinn's character is taken prisoner by the U.S. 24th Infantry Division in 1945. This couldn't have happened as the 24th was fighting in the Philippines at that time and would later be sent to Japan on occupation duties. See more »
We don't know why this extraordinary film was never made available officially on DVD... Anthony Quinn's performance alone makes this a must-see. There are relatively few films in which an actor identifies so profoundly with his character, a phenomenon always unique for us, moviegoers.
But Quinn's powerful portrayal of an innocent Romanian, literally dragged out of his house and everyday life by forces he cannot comprehend, is only part of what makes this film great. The script is based on a book published in Paris by a Romanian priest who fled the Communist take-over of his country, and the film succeeds to go deep into a little known area of East-European history. Told as a succession of Kafka-esquire twists of fate, the misadventures of Johann Moritz (told openly and honestly, without any of the political correctness currently so precious in Hollywood) are in fact a eulogy for the lost innocence of the Romanian people... it is devilishly ironic that this eulogy is signed by a French director, working with the American money of an Italian producer, and overseeing a multinational cast fronted by an extraordinary Mexican-born thespian.
I've seen mentions of VCDs of this film in various Asian internet stores, and I was fortunate to take possession of a digital recording of this film, broadcast on the British version of TCM. But it's a shame that "The 25th Hour" isn't anywhere on the future DVD release map of MGM studios.
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