It’s time for a really retro film! This one came out in the 40s so this was even before the Godzilla days. Actually…even I wasn’t born way back then! (Believe it or not!) I tend to enjoy these classic films since they really did a good job with the writing back then. The characters are typically a lot more enjoyable and the gun fights tended to be more entertaining than the modern ones. Classic films have their weaknesses as well so it’s not all up, but they can hold their own. Was this film a true classic or was it the next Lord of the Rings? It’s time to find out!
Germany has taken France down for the count at the start of the film. There is only a small resistance movement left and they’re badly outnumbered and outgunned. These guys seem to have no chance and a hostile tension fills the land. The story follows Steve, a professional fisherman. He’s an American and that means that he’s in less danger than most of the other characters. He keeps reminding the Germans to watch out for Uncle Sam. (Not in those words, but he does mention his rights and threatens to call the Americans at one point) The French want Steve to transport a political figure from an area across the sea back to his hotel. Steve decides not too, but a woman by the name of Marie arrives and things start to get chaotic for the heroes. The french did not listen to Steve and they arrive only to be shot down. The villains decide to mess with Steve and Marie since they’re suspects and they steal all of Steve’s money. This results in Steve deciding to take the job as well as the fact that the villains were messing with Marie. Will Steve be able to make a difference in this war?
It’s a crude analysis of the plot, but that’s because it’s very plot heavy. Every scene leads into the next one and while the film is only 2 hours, you could say that there are 4-5 segments of the film. The plot continues to twist and turn as the film goes on and it’s hard to know where to draw the line. After all, you don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen and the actual plot for the film at certain points can become spoilers. It’s tricky and I figured that I would just dodge that part by giving the basic overview of the plot. Pretty ingenius eh? Well I try…
Is Steve a good main character? The lead is pretty crucial in a film like this since he’ll be getting a whole bunch of screentime. Only 3-10 minutes of the film take place without him and maybe even less than that. On one hand, Steve is the kind of guy that you want on your side. He’s very brave and he doesn’t back down to anyone. He talks back to the Germans, the French, etc. Nobody talks to Steve the wrong way if he has anything to say about it. He also makes sure to defend his friends so anyone who messes with them has to mess with him. Those are the positive qualities for Steve and it’s why I can safely say that he’s a dependable main character.
On the other hand, Steve does get heavily involved in the romance plot. He’s pretty easily wooed by the main heroine although he keeps his composure and uses insults to try and trick her into thinking that he doesn’t want her around. “Don’t get the wrong idea…..I’m not doing this for you….I’m doing it for me!” is the kind of thing that you can expect him to say. It’s definitely hard to tell at some points whether he is really as calm and collected as he appears or not since Marie really gets to him at times. I could do without the romance and I’m sure that you’ve already heard this in my older reviews. Still, Steve ended up being a good character.
Eddie is Steve’s main assistant on the ship. He used to be a pretty good guy according to Steve, but now he’s always drunk. The beer has already damaged him both physically and mentally. It’s too bad since you get the sense that he could have been a pretty likable guy back in the day. He’s still fairly nice, but he has a really short term memory and he is completely addicted to beer. It’s one of the only things that he thinks about in life. He’ll still stand by Steve until the bitter end, but he’s a shell of his former self. He’s certainly an amusing character though and he’s not quite as annoying as a modern version of him would be. Basically, Eddie was still a good character.
Marie is the main heroine of the film. We never get a full glimpse into her origin, but perhaps it is for the best. Why dwell on the past right? She starts out as a petty thief who uses people to get money, but she decides to go straight when she meets Steve. It’ll be dangerous, but the journey is worth it for the goal at the end of the road. She does jump start the whole romance angle, but I suppose that it was inevitable. We still had some nice banter between her and Steve at one point where they kept trying to provoke the other person. (Remember when people actually used the word sore instead of upset? That’s one “slang” term that died out pretty early on) The character development was really good for Marie though and she’s a much better character at the end of the film than at the beginning. It’s always good to see an example of character development helping someone since it has a tendency to have the opposite effect.
We had some other supporting characters, but they weren’t very memorable for the most part. “Frenchie” was constantly getting Steve into trouble, but it was for a good cause I suppose. The other members of the rebellion were not so great though and the big shot that Steve had to transport turned out to not be very great by the end. It’s safe to say that I was expecting a lot more out of him. The main villain is pretty fat and almost endearing, but not quite. It’s what I would expect so I give the film a thumbs up there.
There is not much of a soundtrack so the film scores a 0 there, but most old films didn’t have many solid themes playing. The simple reason that explains this is the fact that rock music wasn’t really around at the time. The writing is the film’s main strength. The dialogue is just first rate as you would expect and it’s mainly thanks to Steve since he gets about 90% of the cool lines in the film. The others help though and this is how you make a script!
Overall, This was a pretty solid film. The film is under 2 hours, but it’ll still feel like it has a longer runtime since so much happens in that time period. Most of it won’t even feel like filler since something is usually happening in the shadows. Steve is an example of a character who talks tough and gets dragged into romance, but still manages to be 1000X cooler than someone like James Bond. I definitely recommend this film if you’re looking for a solid dialogue film or if you want to see something involving the Germans from back in the day. The French are on the losing side in this film, but at least we know that things will get better once America jumps in. America definitely gets its props here and that’s always fun to see. There is some brief action in the film as well so that helps the film as well. Is this the best 40’s film that I’ve seen? It’s certainly possible! (I’ll just have to check which other films I’ve seen from this decade!)