Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


UNDERGROUND (1941). Vincent Sherman.

Returning from the German army after losing an arm, Kurt Franken (Jeffrey Lynn) is unaware that his brother Eric (Philip Dorn) is the radio voice of the underground resistance movement that hates the Nazis and everything they stand for. Then Kurt falls for a woman (Kaaren Verne) who is working with his brother, and all Hell breaks loose. The most affecting and best-acted scene has to do with Eric and an associate confronting a man who was released by the Nazis after years of imprisonment and torture as he begs them to understand what he went through and tries to assure them that he didn't betray them. Eric feels that one has to be prepared to give up one's life for the cause, giving added resonance to the wind-up. Martin Kosleck is excellent as the nasty Colonel Heller (sic) who is determined to wipe out the members of the underground at any cost. This may have been a propaganda film, but it still has some power today and must have been very strong stuff in 1941. Some striking scenes and good performances, too. It's all rather minor-league, unfortunately, despite the subject matter, but the ending is poignant.

Verdict: **1/2.

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