|LES MAUDITS (THE DAMNED) (director/writer: Rene Clement; screenwriters: story by Victor Alexandrov & Jacques Companéez/Jacques Rémy; cinematographer: Henri Alekan; editor: Roger Dwyre; music: Yves Baudrier; cast: Kurt Kronefeld (General Von Hauser), Fosco Giachetti (Garosi), Henri Vidal (Dr. Guilbert), Jodest (Forster), Michel Auclair (Willy Morus), Florence Marly (Hilda Garosi), Marcel Dalio (Larga), Jean Didier (The Captain), Paul Bernard (Couturier), Anne Campion (Ingrid Ericksen), Lucien Hector (Ericksen); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Paul Wagner/André Paulvé/Michel Safra; Warner Home Video; 1947)|
WW II thriller."
by Dennis Schwartz
Clement ("Forbidden Games"/"Is Paris Burning?"/"Purple Noon")
directs with great skill this exciting WW II thriller. The
claustrophobic film is set almost entirely on a
captured German U-boat, with an engine room designed
by the studio. It's a bold example of a realistic
documentary-styled film that is both a great technical
achievement and an example of good story-telling. It
depicts the Nazi madness, and covers the post-war Nazi
exodus to South America that few films even try.
Writers Clement and Jacques Rémy base it on the story by Victor Alexandrov
Set during the waning days
of the war in April of 1945, with Hitler declared dead
and an assorted group of unpleasant Nazi officials,
sympathizers and collaborators taking a U-boat on an
unauthorized trip from an Oslo sub station to South
America, trying to get through an allied blockade and
escape their personal doom if they remained in Europe.
The Nazi Swiss-born militant Hilda Garosi (Florence Marly),
the ice-queen wife of a pathetic Italian Fascist
Giachetti), is the mistress of the self-absorbed,
uptight, close-mouthed, elderly Nazi General Von
Hauser (Kurt Kronefeld). He's also aboard the U-boat with
his aide. When Hilda conks her head against the ship
railing while the boat runs from a destroyer and is
knocked unconscious, the Germans cry out for a doctor.
The ship, under orders from madman fanatic Nazi
political big-shot, Forster (Jodest), the fiery
self-appointed leader, has the U-boat stop off the
French seacoast and a few of his operatives kidnap Dr.
Guilbert (Henri Vidal),
from Royan, and force him to go along with them to
The other uglies aboard include the
despicable ship captain (Jean
Didier); the fawning French
Nazi propaganda newspaperman (Paul
Bernard); the punky young
knife-wielding thug, who is Forster's designated
assassin, Willy Morus (Michel Auclair); the slimy Scandinavian
scientist scholar Ericksen (Lucien Hector) and his almost but not
quite human 17-year-old daughter Ingrid (Anne Campion).
The French doctor realizes his life is in
danger and he's warned by Ingrid to be aware of
Forster, who wants no witnesses to squeal about his
escape and will kill the doc when he's no longer
needed. A friendly German radio operator warns doc
to escape while he can when the U-boat fuels up from
a German cargo boat.
The atmospheric film works
in parts in a masterful way, as it depicts the real
world and its misfortunes. It's filled with
justifiable anti-Nazi propaganda, a talented cast
playing to the hilt a bunch of unctuous nasties and a
tense story about being stuck in close-quarters with
shipmates who might look human but can suddenly turn
In 1947, it won for best
picture in Cannes.
REVIEWED ON 10/14/2013 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ