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Army of Shadows (1969)

L'armée des ombres (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama , War | 12 September 1969 (France)
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An account of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France.

Writers:

Joseph Kessel (novel), Jean-Pierre Melville (adaptation)
4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lino Ventura ... Philippe Gerbier
Paul Meurisse ... Luc Jardie
Jean-Pierre Cassel ... Jean François Jardie
Simone Signoret ... Mathilde
Claude Mann Claude Mann ... Claude Ullmann dit 'Le Masque'
Paul Crauchet ... Felix Lepercq
Christian Barbier Christian Barbier ... Guillaume Vermersch dit 'Le Bison'
Serge Reggiani ... The hairdresser
André Dewavrin André Dewavrin ... Colonel Passy
Alain Dekok Alain Dekok ... Legrain
Alain Mottet Alain Mottet ... Commander of the camp
Alain Libolt Alain Libolt ... Paul Dounat
Jean-Marie Robain Jean-Marie Robain ... Baron de Ferte Talloire
Albert Michel Albert Michel ... Gendarm
Denis Sadier Denis Sadier ... Gestapo's doctor
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Storyline

France, 1942, under German occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is a French Resistance commandant. Denounced by a French collaborator, he is interned in a concentration camp. He manages to escape, and rejoins his network in Marseille, where he has the traitor executed. This movie reveals rigorously and austerely what life was like in the French Resistance: the solitude and fear of its members; their relationships with one another; the constant threat of arrest by the Gestapo; the Resistance command structure and the way its orders were carried out. Head writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville were both veterans of the "Shadow Army". Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Betrayal. Loyalty. Collaboration. Resistance.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Rialto Pictures

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French | German | English

Release Date:

12 September 1969 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Army of Shadows See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,620, 30 April 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$741,766, 26 April 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Les Films Corona,Fono Roma See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (2006 restoration)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cinematographer Pierre Lhomme claimed that the last surviving, watchable print of the movie had turned completely pink with age. He later supervised the 2k resolution, digital restoration of the film at the Eclair Laboratories in Paris. See more »

Goofs

In the end, it says "dimanche 23 février 1943" (Sunday, 23rd February, 1943) even though it was a Tuesday. See more »

Quotes

Philippe Gerbier: See you later, Comrade.
Legrain: ...You're a communist?
Philippe Gerbier: No. But I can still have comrades.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Icicle Thief (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

La Planque
Written and Performed by Orchestre Éric Demarsan
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Classic in World Cinema
27 April 2006 | by GRMacESee all my reviews

If you have any interest whatsoever in French cinema, World War II, moral ambiguity, or Simone Signoret, see this film.

Filmed in a cold, documentary-like style, the "Shadow Army" tells the intertwining stories of several members of the French resistance. The movie defies any sort of simple categorization. It is a thriller without being thrilling. It is a spy story without a single gadget. It portrays the tedium of the task without being boring. Finally, it tells a story of heroic courage without the benefit of a single hero. That last point isn't immediately evident and you are free to disagree, of course, but heroes (as defined in the usual movie terms) are hard to come by in this story.

A popular adage goes; one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. This movie serves up proof to that lie. There are true freedom fighters that will never be labeled "terrorist" and you will meet them during the course of this film. The movie makes clear that they, and the ones around them, paid a high price in pursuit of freedom. Not just in life and limb, but in moral conviction. As the movie unfolds, I found myself asking, is this action justified? The answer, of course, is that it most certainly is. The better question is would I, or anyone I know, have the courage to do what had to be done.

The technical aspects of the film are all first rate even though a bit below the best of European cinema at the time. (In some ways, the lack of high definition color and sets give it a feel much more in keeping with the time it portrays.) The actors disappear into their roles and there is not a star-turn to be found.

According to the announcement made before the screening I attended, it is being released in the United States on May 12, 2006, just before the summer blockbuster crush. Why that date and why now, almost 30 years after it was made, I do not know. My guess is it probably has something to do with money. (Doesn't it always?) Whatever the reasons, skip the Tom Cruise vehicle and don't miss the opportunity to see it.


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