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Decision Before Dawn (21-Dec-1951)

Director: Anatole Litvak

Writer: Peter Viertel

From novel: Call It Treason by George Howe

Music: Franz Waxman

Producers: Anatole Litvak; Frank McCarthy

Keywords: Drama, WWII

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Richard Basehart
31-Aug-1914 17-Sep-1984 La Strada
Hildegard Knef
28-Dec-1925 1-Feb-2002 The Murderers Are Among Us
Gary Merrill
2-Aug-1915 5-Mar-1990 All About Eve
Oskar Werner
13-Nov-1922 23-Oct-1984 Jules et Jim


Richard Basehart   ...   Lt. Rennick
Gary Merrill   ...   Col. Devlin
Oskar Werner   ...   Happy
Hildegard Knef   ...   Hilde
Dominique Blanchar   ...   Monique
O. E. Hasse   ...   Von Ecker
Wilfried Seyfert   ...   Scholtz (SS Man)
Hans Christian Blech   ...   Tiger
Helene Thimig   ...   Fräulein Schneider
Robert Freytag   ...   Paul
George Tyne   ...   Sgt. Griffin
and the following members of the US Armed Forces Europe
C. A. Amos   ...   1st Lt. USAF
H. L. Benedict   ...   Staff Sgt. USAF
H. W. Briggs   ...   Sgt. USA
D. G. Devine   ...   Cpl. USAF
L. E. Dixon   ...   Maj. USA
B. L. Hendrickson   ...   Technical Sgt. USA
D. Kogel   ...   Pvt. USA
S. I. Rice   ...   Pfc. USA
F. Slaman   ...   Pfc. USA
J. E. Stratton   ...   Sgt. USA


Review by William H. Smeck (posted on 27-Mar-2005)

This film is very realistic of the period...

The last days of the Third Reich, with devestating destruction from allied bombing raids affecting civilian and military movement, combined with Allied armies advancing on both Eastern and Western fronts, does not deter the organization of the German military machine and the continued, operationally efficient, ruthless NAZI mentality to be deadly to its own people.

In this film, a single German soldier decides to side with the Allies to do what he can to end the war as quickly as possible in his effort to save what remains of his country and innocent lives.

The way he does this is to become a turncoat spy for the allies to track German army units and report the information back to a very skeptical United States Army officer.

This individual has, in his travels meet with a friendly but shiftless German Army courier, work in a German Army hospital for a physician, and work with a fellow turncoat who is not as committed as he. At the same time he is tracked, discovered, and almost caught by the very efficient German Military police.

The scenes are authentic damaged German cities, in authentic German towns just after the end of the Second World War, not computer generated or mock up's of Hollywood back lots.

The main character, Oscar Werner, was very convincing as a German realist and pacificist (if that term can be combined in one sentence) in his role as and Army medic turncoat at the very end of the war.

This is a 'Must See' picture, not just for the reality of the story, time, and scenes but also for the excellent acting of many of the characters.

Black and White... Period German Last Days of WWII Situation

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