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The 25th Hour (16-Feb-1967)

Director: Henri Verneuil

Writers: François Boyer; Wolf Mankowitz; Henri Verneuil

From novel by: C. Virgil Gheorghiu

Keywords: Drama, WWII

La Vingt-cinquième Heure.

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Robert Beatty
19-Oct-1909 3-Mar-1992 2001: A Space Odyssey
Marcel Dalio
17-Jul-1900 20-Nov-1983 The Sun Also Rises
Marius Goring
23-May-1912 30-Sep-1998 The Red Shoes
Alexander Knox
16-Jan-1907 25-Apr-1995 Wilson
John Le Mesurier
5-Apr-1912 15-Nov-1983 Dad's Army
Virna Lisi
8-Sep-1937 18-Dec-2014 La Reine Margot
Jacques Marin
9-Sep-1919 10-Jan-2001 Charade
Anthony Quinn
21-Apr-1915 3-Jun-2001 Zorba the Greek
Michael Redgrave
20-Mar-1908 21-Mar-1985 Mourning Becomes Electra
Liam Redmond
27-Jul-1913 28-Oct-1989 Irish stage and film actor
Serge Reggiani
2-May-1922 22-Jul-2004 French singer, actor, painter


Review by jkc (posted on 2-Apr-2005)

I am commenting about the 1967 film, The 25th Hour, which the previous reviewer [now moved to its proper place] seems to have confused with the recent Spike Lee film of the same name, but with nothing to do with the this one. In fact, when I began reading the review, I thought that I had stepped into a parallel universe.

I have never seen the Verneuil film in America and wonder whether it was ever shown there. If not, why not? In fact, when the late Anthony Quinn died (interestingly, his name is not shown in the credits above, which is interesting because he played the victimized protagonist; nor is that of Virna Lisi, who played his equally victimized wife), this film was not even listed among those in which he had starred.

He should have been very proud of this role, that of the innocent, good, somewhat simple Romanian peasant who, through no fault of his own, plays a significant role alongside some very unsavory representations of events that occurred in WWII. As the final irony, he ends up charged with war crimes as the poster boy for Aryan racial purity, while all along he has been nothing but a victim. In some respects, it is the WWII version of Forrest Gump, with much more pathos and no happy ending.

The first time that I saw the film was on the TNT channel (international) and it blew me away. I have been trying, unsuccessfully so far to get a video or DVD of the film and will continue doing so because it is a film whose message is even more relevant today where unilateral interventionist wolves of war have been unleashed for many of the same motivations as Hitler's wolves were.

Review by Enrique (posted on 26-Aug-2007)

This movie has deep significance. It is a tragedy that it is unavailable in the "Free World" I think the lesson is that one can be labeled in to any role. Good muslim bad Muslim... Peasant to Jew to Nazi and back all in such a short time. I just found a copy of the book I have seen the film many years ago and only now is its significance becomming apparent. anyone know wher to get a copy of the film please share it. I would actually pay a reasonable price for a copy.

Review by Jim (posted on 4-Oct-2005)

There are very few films that are worth seeing more than once. The 25th Hour is definitely one of those films that one can view over and over without getting tired or bored. The characters and subject could not have been worked better. My only regret is that some force for some reason is keeping this film out of the market place and I do not know why.

Review by anonymous (posted on 18-Sep-2005)

I am Romanian, so, please excuse my poor English, just in case I make some mistakes. There had been some things that impressed me deeply in this movie. The first one of them is the fact that whoever was in charge with recreating the Romanian village athmosphere did an excellent job. Usually, this doesn't happen very often when foreigners try to bring an accurate image of a Romanian rural environment to the greater public. Somehow, I'm surprised there was no Dracula in the story. How did that happen, by the way ? Anyway, this is exactly my point. The producer of the film must have gone as far as to study the Romanian village himself and I took great pleasure in hearing with my own ears some Romanian peasant music being played in one scene at the beginning of the movie. The musicians were definitely Romanian. Their accent was unmistakable. For some reason, the people playing the peasants must have been Romanian also, because they felt very natural wearing those costumes and they played the Hora (that dance in which they go round in circles at great speed) very Romanian like. Anyway, Romania was beyond the Iron Curtain at the time when the film was shot so, where did the producer get his peasants ? That is a mistery to me to this day. The second thing that impressed me deeply was Quinn's acting. Take my word for it: if you visit today any Romanian village, you'll find thousands of Johann Moritzes. What I mean is that his interpretation was also very Romanian like. If I hadn't known he was a Mexican, I could have sworn he was Romanian if this had been the only film he had starred in, although his character, Moritz, was, in fact non Romanian (a Saxon from the Szeckler county in Transilvania, strangely dark, both in hair and complexion, probably a result of hundreds of years of mixing with the local latin Romanians, although dark complexioned Romanians are fairly rare in Romania, another thing you didn't know, isn't it ?).

Review by mizi causevic (posted on 13-Feb-2005)

When you hear the name Spike Lee, you hardly ever think GENIUS. It's mostly, "prick, asswipe, etc." Now I'm not a hater of Spike Lee in any way but I've heard stories about this dude that just made me think twice, it's one thing when a person tells you 'Spike is an asshole', but it's a completely different thing when a wave of people say that Spike Lee is not the nicest and most likeable guy on earth. I've even witnessed people cringing away like babies when they hear the name Spike Lee. All in all, I don't quite judge anyone unless I see shit with my own four eyes. I've seen Summer of Sam only because of Mira Sorvino, I didn't think it was a bad movie but many people would argue that. Then of course, Malcom X which was simply great, but then again some people would argue that it was over-done and lot's of other bullshit that doesn't really count, when there's a good movie done by an asshole director, give it the credit it deserves, not the hate that you can't really back up. The reason why I'm saying this is because once I heard that 25th Hour was coming out many people jumped on the hate wagon and said that this movie is going to be pure shit since Spike Lee is behind the camera. In my own opinion, Edward Norton hasn't done a bad movie yet, so I had no doubt in my mind that this movie wasn't going to be good. Unlike many others, I care about Spike's directing a bit more than his writing skills.

The opening scene of this movie made me twist and turn my head twice because I couldn't tell if it was some cruel joke or an actual movie-opening scene. I'd love to specify what it is but I don't want to be the prick-critic who ruins the movie for those of you who have yet to see it. Moving on.. the movie starts off by showing us that Monty is actually a nice guy, even though not too long after, we learn that Monty is a drug dealer who's been busted. So right from the start you like this guy, drug thing aside. This reminded me of Blow (Johnny Depp) when many people said "How are we suppose to feel bad for a drug dealer?" -- this wasn't the case in 25th Hour, I actually learned to like the character from the get go. I'm still not sure why, I just did. Maybe because of Ed Norton's strong performance and the killer dialogue that his character had. I simply have to praise the rant that he has in the bathroom. Not to say I agree with the views of his character, but it was simply jaw dropping to watch that scene. That was definitely my highlight of the movie. It's also worthy to mention that this is the first movie that deals with the 9/11 tragedy. I felt that was a nice little touch from the writer and it fit the movie just fine. Barry Pepper (We Were Soldiers, Battlefield Earth) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Red Dragon, Patch Adams) play Monty's best friends, I was actually really glad to see these two take on bigger and better roles. Really cool performances from both of them. Rosario Dawson also does really well with one of better roles, even though her character was put in the doubting shadows of the film, she did really good with what she could. Next up we have Anna Paquin (X-Men, X2) who pretty much plays ditzy little teenager with a fuck-all attitude. Last up with have a nice little role from Brian Cox (Manhunter, Super Troopers, The Ring) who plays Monty's father. Not a big role but crucial to the story, especially in the end.

This movie will not be popular with the average close-minded movie fan simply because it's not fast paced, nor does it have a huge climax that makes you go 'wow'. If you're a fan of dialogue-like movies than this is your stop. With really great acting and a killer dialogue, you really can't go wrong. If nothing, just go and see this movie so you can see Ed Norton get beat up. I swear, I think this guy has it in his contract that he has to get his ass kicked in every movie that he does. Ed Norton has been one of my favorite actors every since I saw his first flick, Primal Fear. So to not see this movie would have been like pulling teeth. I'm glad I went in to see and I really cannot wait to own this puppy once it's out on DVD.

Review by WGA (posted on 24-Apr-2008)

I saw this B&W movie in France in 1975 on local TV. I was blown away. So much so that I found the book, in French and read it from cover to cover. The title comes from a character in the first chapter, a Romanian country priest, who sees the war with Hitler coming. He makes a prediction that the world has already passed the point of no return, and in that sense there will be no new day, because the "25th hour" is now upon them. This film shows the absurdity of the war, with one poor peasant being carried along by the tides of war that sweep over Europe. The movie was very faithful, in general, to the original book. I think it is the best Anthony Quinn film I've ever seen as he truly becomes the character he plays. I have searched for this film with the advent of VHS and now DVD. I only hope it will become available someday. Since I only saw it once over 30 years ago, the fact that it still is crystal clear in my mind (and I only read the book once too 30 years ago), is a testament to the potential impact of this film. A recent New York Times critic dismissed the film with the pretention and condescension so common to the NY Times. He's an idiot. The film is a GREAT film, and one I would buy in a heartbeat if I could find it.

Review by Gawie du Toit (posted on 31-May-2008)

Well, I've just seen this movie by coincidence on Turner Classic Movies. It's evidently a big-budget movie, but with none of the big-budget Hollywood crappiness. And I'm surprised that I'd never heard of it before. In this movie their really aren't any good guys in war. The Romanian government, the Hungarians, the Germans, the Partisans, the Allies -- when they're carrying guns it's all the same: you're in for it. Is this moral perhaps too honest for the box office? If it's not made abundantly clear that the GIs are the good guys, why should Americans pay money to see it? And then ... the ending. It's not happy, and not particularly dramatic -- just tough. That, I suppose, is why the movie isn't famous. No doubt it failed at the box office, and now nobody wants to throw good money after bad by bringing it out on DVD. But if you get a chance to see it, do. It's forty years old, not at all dated, very honest and very good.

Review by anonymous (posted on 2-Sep-2006)

This is a must see movie about many personalities in a troubled world. It is set in Rumania during WWII touching on historical events between the forces of evil and goodness. Anthony Quinn does a remarkable casting of humility, humor, honor, and great struggles to return to his homeland and his wife. His misery and the human toll can be heartfelt in this classic. The book by author C. Virgil Gheorghiu has a tremendous vivid portrayal in every page as he introduces each personality and how each of their paths are crossed with one another. To read the book only enhances desires to view the movie, and not only once. TNT would want to play an encore of previous showings and bring it to the public on DVD. Spike Lee's movie of the same title is no where near the drama of this movie. The Forrest Gump movie could be considered closely related to the 25th Hour but still lacks the spiritual message it brings out. A must see and an excellent read!

Review by anonymous (posted on 4-Jul-2005)

I am one of those unfortunate individuals forever in search of a copy of The 25th Hour. I have seen it twice, both times in Paraguay. The story captivated me from the beginning. Anthony Quinn and Virna Lisi are Rumanian peasants living during World War II. Anthony Quinn is arrested and sent to a concentration camp, but the Germans decide he is actually an Aryan and promote him to camp kappo...and so his misfortunes unravel...he finally makes it home after suffering numerous perils and misfortunes over which he has absolutely no control. The story is entertaining, the subject is filled with humanity, the photography supberb and the acting quite good. It is definetely worth watching several times. In fact, I still have to figure out the title. By the way another hard to find good film is "Teresa Ladra" (Teresa the Thief), also with Virna Lisi.

Review by anonymous (posted on 9-May-2006)

This film is really a must see. So many "war films" just glorify the victory or are action movies, and the new wave of films with a message fall short of showing what war was for someone who had nothing to do with it. The 25th Hour is one of those rare films that does not use Hollywood tricks to make you cry, it is a masterpiece of interpretation from Anthony Quinn and he transmits his role so realistically that it is sometimes difficult to think he is acting. Really a moving film everybody should see to know what war really is like for the common people.

Review by Syed Kamal (posted on 16-Apr-2008)

One of the most memorable movies I can think of. Saw it in the 60's while at college in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. What's surprising is the reviews of those who saw it far removed from my space and time. Must see. It is no documentary but I haven't seen any better made visual arguments against wars, past or present. Thanks.

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