The film pays tribute to the real life exploits of Violette Szabo, a beautiful young woman who became a British cloak-and-dagger agent in France and won a posthumous George Cross after being tortured and executed in Ravensbruck Camp. Part of the pic’s attraction is its lack of hysteria. It keeps resolutely to the facts [from a book by R.J. Minney] and refuses to allow the espionage and torture sequences to go past the bounds of credulity.
Virginia McKenna is topnotch. She runs the gamut of humor, charm and toughness. By skillful playing and equally skillful makeup, McKenna’s ordeal is expertly revealed. Paul Schofield, as the officer collleague who falls in love with his gallant young comrade, and Alain Saury, as her young husband; Jack Warner and Denise Grey, as her stolid middle-aged parents; Bill Owen, a standout as McKenna’s sergeant instructor, all contribute admirably to the thesping.