EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (director/writer: Lewis Gilbert; screenwriters: Vernon Harris/based on the book by R. J. Minney; cinematographer: John Wilcox; editor: John Shirley; music: William Alwyn; cast: Virginia McKenna (Violette Szabo), Paul Scofield (Tony Fraser), Jack Warner (Mr. Bushell), Denise Grey (Mrs. Bushell), Maurice Ronet (Jacques), Alain Saury (Etienne Szabo), Billie Whitelaw (Winnie), Anne Leon (Lillian Rolfe), Sydney Tafler (Potter), Avice Landone (Vera Atkins), Nicole Stéphane (Denise Bloch), Noel Willman (Interrogator), Bill Owen (N.C.O. Instructor), William Mervyn (Colonel Buckmaster), Michael Goodliffe (Coding Expert), Pauline Challoner (Tania); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Daniel M. Angel; MGM/Fox; 1958-UK)|
biopic on patriotic war heroine and martyr Violette Szabo."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Well-made biopic on patriotic war heroine and martyr Violette Szabo (Virginia McKenna), that in a traditional Brit stiff upper lip way honors her real-life story as a spy with a stirring but nevertheless subdued production. Director Lewis Gilbert ("Alfie"/"Educating Rita"/"Shirley Valentine") cowrites with Vernon Harris. It's based on a best-selling biography by R. J. Minney.
Violette Bushell (Virginia
McKenna) is a French-speaking 19-year-old shopgirl
living in London, in 1940, with a French mom (Denise Grey) and English dad (Jack Warner). She meets French officer
Etienne Szabo (Alain Saury) in a London park and
marries him three days later. Two years later he's
killed in the North African campaign, at the Battle of El Alamein, and she's widowed with a
two-year-old daughter Tania. Approached by a British
Special Operations Executive officer (Sydney Tafler) to be a spy or, as the
recruiting officer said, a resistance liaison officer, in occupied France to work
with the French resistance, she surprises herself by
accepting this dangerous assignment. After undergoing
an extensive training program, including paratrooper
is sent into
France in the spring of 1944 to work under seasoned SOE agent Tony
Scofield) on a mission to aid a
resistance unit in the Rouen area, where there's a
possible mole. Violette completes that mission successfully and returns
home, only is recruited for a second mission in France
to carry out sabotage missions, but this one turns out
to be more dangerous and tragic than the first mission
and she's captured by the Germans after helping
another agent escape in the woods from a German
patrol. Tortured by the Gestapo and executed by a
firing squad at a concentration camp by the Nazis,
Violette never revealed any information after
destroying the code, and is viewed by the British
military as an inspiring example of someone who
courageously gave her life for her country and the
cause of freedom.
It's a solid old-fashioned
war spy drama, with excellent acting, and its
sentimental flag-waving never becomes too much even if
it offers not even a hint of cynicism at the war
REVIEWED ON 8/7/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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