Monday, January 10, 2011

Joan Fights the Nazis

Our film this time is the 1942 anti-Nazi film Reunion in France. Released in January of 1942, this would have been produced before the United States entered World War II, but while our hero Pat Talbot is flying for the RAF, he is clearly an American - played by John Wayne!  Here, Ms. Crawford plays Michele de la Becque, a spoiled aristocrat whose world turns upside down when the Nazis invade France.  Her family dispersed (we learn her parents have escaped to Lisbon), Michele struggles back to Paris, only to find that her fiance, Robert Cortot (Philip Dorn) is a Quisling.  Thus, Michele begins her own form of resistance, first by walking out on the promised easy life that Cortot would provide; then by helping downed flyer Talbot get back to his unit in England.

This is the only film in which Wayne and Crawford ever appeared.  They are actually quite good together.  Their unique acting styles come together nicely; but is it surprising that Crawford looks good next to a strong male co-star?  Billing-wise, Crawford came first in list, with Wayne and Dorn listed side-by-side under Ms. Crawford.  And while we might expect Wayne to be the romantic interest, he is, in fact, only a trigger to the action.  We won't say more than that, because this movie is more than just an anti-Nazi propaganda film, and more than a romance. It is an espionage film as well.  Who is working with the Nazis? Who is working for the Resistance? Watch the film - you will be pleasantly surprised by the way director Jules Dassin makes the action unfold.  

Some nice supporting work here as well - we were especially pleased to see Natalie Schafer as the snooty wife of a German officer, and John Carradine as a Gestapo official.  We very much enjoyed the scene in the dress shop, where Michele and the dress shop staff try to keep Frau Schroeder (Schafer) from discovering money hidden in a coat that Frau Schroeder covets.

This is an interesting movie, like some of the others we've viewed, rather underrated.  We think you might find this a good selection.  Here's a trailer: