DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

HILL 24 DOESN'T ANSWER (GIV'A 24 EINA ONA) (director: Thorold Dickinson; screenwriters: Zvi Kolitz/Peter Frye/from a story by Zvi Kolitz; cinematographer: Gerald Gibbs; editors:  Jeanna & Thorold Dickinson; music:  Paul Ben Haim; cast: Edward Mulhare (James Finnegan), Michael Wager (Allan Goodman), Margalit Oved (Esther Hadassi), Arich Lavie (David Airam), Michael Shillo (Capt. Yehuda Berger), Haya Harareet (Miriam Miszrahi), Eric Greene (Agent Browning), Stanley Preston (Chief British Agent Lawson), Zalman Lebiush (The Rabbi), Azaria Rapaport (German Mercenary); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Thorold Dickinson/Peter Frye; Ergo Home Video; 1955-Israel-in mostly English and some Hebrew)

"Remains an Israeli classic because it was the first film in Israel that was shown abroad to critical acclaim."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Remains an Israeli classic because it was the first film in Israel that was shown abroad to critical acclaim and for its historical importance in telling of Israel's controversial first war with the Arabs in 1948. British filmmaker Thorold Dickinson ("The Prime Minister"/"The Queen of Spades"/"Secret People") treats the material as if it were Scripture. Unfortunately it has too many plodding moments to be as exciting as it could have been. It's based on a story by Zvi Kolitz, who co-writes the screenplay with Peter Frye. It's photographed in a dull black and white. English is spoken except for a few lines of Hebrew.

In its telling of how seven Arab countries went to war with the UN chartered state of Israel beginning on December of 1947 until a cease fire on May 14th, 1948, even though Israel didn't get its independence from being a British Mandate until May 14, 1948. What remains controversial, even today, is that the territories possessed on that cease fire date became permanent.

The war drama concentrates on four volunteers who are chosen by concentration camp survivor and underground leader Capt. Yehuda Berger (Michael Shillo) to patrol the vital Hill 24, a link in a chain of critically strategic hills leading into Jerusalem. The diverse foursome who passionately fight for the Jewish country are the former British police officer in Palestine, the Irishman Jim Finnegan (Edward Mulhare), the gentle Yemenite Esther Hadassi (Margalit Oved), the rich American tourist Allan Goodman (Michael Wager) and the happy-go-lucky Palestinian David Airam (Arieh Lavi).

In flashback we learn that in 1946 Finnegan, during the days of the British Mandate, worked as a police spy against the Zionist underground, and acted to prevent Jews from sneaking into Palestine. While spying on underground leader Bergen, Finnegan falls in love with the beautiful fourth generation Sabra college student Miriam Miszrahi (Haya Harareet) and through her identifies with the Jewish cause. Esther is arrested and her captors convince her that Finnegan set her up. Finnegan thereby chooses to fight for Israel to show his love was true and that he never deceived her. In flashbacks we see how the other three volunteered for this dangerous mission. We already know from the title how things will end.

Hill 24 Doesn't Answer was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, but failed to win the top prize.

REVIEWED ON 9/24/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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