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Decision Before Dawn

Anatole Litvak gives this Second World War spy thriller a strong feeling of reality through a semi-documentary treatment, the use of mostly unknown faces, and by location lensing entirely in Germany, where the scars of the War still fit graphically into the story's 1945 period.

Anatole Litvak gives this Second World War spy thriller a strong feeling of reality through a semi-documentary treatment, the use of mostly unknown faces, and by location lensing entirely in Germany, where the scars of the War still fit graphically into the story’s 1945 period.

Story [from the novel Call It Treason by George Howe] really gets going when Oskar Werner, a sensitive Allied prisoner, volunteers to aid his captors by obtaining information behind the lines in his own country. He believes his actions will help, rather than betray, Germany. Werner’s excursion is fraught with danger, and his playing and Litvak direction milk the situation of drama while drawing a rather clear picture of events within Germany at that stage of the war and of how the people were taking it.

Richard Basehart and Gary Merrill, latter the commander of the intelligence unit using prisoners of war, are excellent. Hildegarde Neff creates a fine portrait of a German woman made a victim of war, and Dominique Blanchar is equally good as a French girl aiding the Allies.

1951: Nominations: Best Picture, Editing

Decision Before Dawn

  • Production: 20th Century-Fox. Director Anatole Litvak; Producer Anatole Litvak, Frank McCarthy; Screenplay Peter Viertel; Camera Franz Planer; Editor Dorothy Spencer; Music Franz Waxman
  • Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1951. Running time: 119 MIN.
  • With: Richard Basehart Gary Merrill Oskar Werner Hildegarde Neff O.E. Hasse Hans Christian Blech