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Uncertain Glory (1944)
Jean Picard (Errol Flynn) is a womanizer and criminal, condemned to death in France during WWII.
As luck would have it, seconds before he's about to be put to death by way of the guillotine, he is saved by an air strike and escapes.
Hunted down by Inspector Marcel Bonet (Paul Lukas), he talks his way out of extradition by making an offer that plays on the heart strings of the Inspector, and this is where the movie gets really good.
It seems that a bridge was blown up by anti-Nazi resistance, and now the Nazis want that resistor to turn himself in by a specified date and time, or they're going to kill 100 innocent French people.
When Picard finds out about this from the paper, he offers to pose as that resistor, knowing he'll face a firing squad, rather than being taken back to Paris and facing the guillotine again.
Inspector Bonet reluctantly accepts the offer, and the two of them stop in a quaint little village, Poitou, situated near the destroyed bridge.
One of the many aspects of this film that made it so thrilling for me was that at one point I wondered who was the real resistor? Was it the Priest? Maybe it was the self rightous Madame Maret - who describes herself as more Christian than anyone in town.
While Picard has now offered to stand in place of the bridge bombing resistor, and this unknown by anyone other than Bonet, some of the citizens of the little village come up with their own plan.
During a meeting of these citizens it comes out that all of the Nazi hostages came from that vicinity, and one of them is the grown son of Madame Maret, who also runs the hotel that Bonet and Picard are staying in.
Madame Maret reasons with everyone that it's not likely that the saboteur will turn himself in so, clearly to the discomfort of the men in the room, she suggests someone else take the blame so that the hostages will be set free.
She then hand picks the person she thinks should do this and tries to talk him into doing it. "Brenoir, you're old, you have no family, your life isn't worth much to anyone..."
Gee, what a nice thing to say to someone, huh? I'll bet this lady was also the town busybody and gossip.
It just so happens that there is a somewhat naive and very pretty and virginal young woman named Marianne (Jean Sullivan) who works for Madame Maret, and the Madame is somewhat motherly although controlling of her. It's not hard to see why Picard was taken with her, and she falls straight away for him.
As Bonet tries to prepare Picard to turn himself in to the Nazi's, he tries to keep Picard from using Marianne.
All through the rest of the movie, I wondered whether he was really going to do the right thing, and there were so many different opportunities.
Flynn did an awesome job of keeping me on the edge of my seat. On one hand, he came across as sincere, yet he did things that make a person think he was just some gene pool reject simply buying himself some time.
And Lukas did a remarkable job of portraying his character in a balanced fashion. He could be a real hard one, but definitely had a soft, personable side, and you can really see that this character was a man of both conviction and mercy.
Back in the village, Madame Maret's worries about her son cause her to become more desperate, and she's still stuck on her idea of someone taking the blame for blowing up that bridge, even if they are innocent. Since none of the men of the village want to step forth, she comes up with another plan. She's going to accuse Picard of it, so she and some of the men of Poitou put their heads together and concoct a story. When the Priest figures it out, he condemns the idea and forbids it, but the best Christian in town herself has no regard whatsoever for what her Priest has told her. She's going to go through with it no matter what.
So there are many facets to this story that all work together to make this action film more of a thriller than anything.
Usually by the time a movie is half over, I've got the ending pretty well figured out, but this one was so well directed and the characters so well portrayed that I couldn't peg it at all. Now THAT's what I call a movie!
You can enjoy this and four other films in the Errol Flynn Adventures, being released by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Video August 3.
Preorder this collection now and you'll enjoy these 5 great WWII era Errol Flynn flicks plus special features that include cartoons, newsreels, trailers, and more:
- Desperate Journey (1942)
- Northern Pursuit (1943)
- Edge of Darkness (1943)
- Uncertain Glory (1944)
- Objective Burma! (1945)
This not to mention another really cool thing - and that is the movie posters printed on each disc. I'm big on movie posters, so any time I see movie posters on the disc I'm a happy camper.
Own this collection on Blu-ray! Visit the WB Shop for more details.
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