While Hold Back the Dawn is basically another European refugee yarn, scenarists Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder exercised some ingenuity and imagination and Ketty Frings' original emerges as fine celluloidia.
While Hold Back the Dawn is basically another European refugee yarn, scenarists Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder exercised some ingenuity and imagination and Ketty Frings’ original emerges as fine celluloidia.
Charles Boyer is cast similarly to his role in Algiers – a rogue of hypnotic charm over women. A gigolo in Europe, he’s washed up in Mexico by the war and the quota laws make his entry into the United States a dream at least eight years distant. Caught among numerous other Europeans likewise waiting for the bars to be let down, Boyer is rapidly going to seed in the Mexican town when he meets up with Paulette Goddard, his former partner in crime in Paris, Vienna, etc.
She crashed the US by marrying an American jockey, ditching him later, and, still in love with Boyer, she puts him wise to the simple gimmick for making the immigration authorities relax. This sets the trap for Olivia de Havilland, a romance-hungry school teacher escorting a flock of young boys on an excursion in Mexico over the 4 July holiday.
Mitchell Leisen’s only visible mistake is a tendency of the film to drag in spots, but this might be unavoidable due to Boyer’s slow delivery.
1941: Nominations: Best Picture, Actress (Olivia de Havilland), Screenplay, B&W Cinematography, B&W Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture