23 December 2005 | bkoganbing
One of the things that all of the films about Norway during World War II fail to mention is why the Nazis were there in the first place. All of the Scandinavian countries would have gladly sat out this war as they did World War I. In fact all, but Sweden got into it for various reasons.
In the case of Norway, it's simply the long Norwegian coastline. Even before the Soviet Union was invaded, Hitler saw the necessity of preventing supplies from getting to the Soviets should they break the Hitler-Stalin pact and enter the war on the allied side. The convoy route used was the one into the Arctic Ocean into Archangel and Murmansk. No other route was possible for American lend lease. The Nazis operated bases from Norway and sank a lot of allied shipping in the North Atlantic.
So this is why this small village and so many others like it were occupied and why the country was invaded. The Norwegian people from the king and queen on down, knew their country was in a sideshow theater, yet they did resist as best they could.
In fact Mr. Churchill did mount a counterattack in Norway, but the invasion failed and British troops had to withdraw. From time to time he brought up freeing Norway during allied conferences, but could get no support for it from Roosevelt or Stalin.
Errol Flynn stars in Edge of Darkness and the usual Flynn derring-do is kept on hold. Probably in keeping with the stoical nature of Scandinavian character. He's not exactly Captain Blood in this one. He's a fisherman, but his natural qualities of leadership come through as he leads the resistance.
Edge of Darkness is the story of one coastal Norwegian village who put up with Nazi occupation beyond what was humanly bearable. The rape of Ann Sheridan finally touches off a revolt.
It's not a star vehicle per se. Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan have a great deal less dialog than they would in most films. Edge of Darkness is a study of the various townspeople and the way each one of them deals with the Nazi occupation.
Walter Huston and Ruth Gordon are the parents of Sheridan and John Beal. Huston is the town doctor and tries to remain above the battle. Gordon, like Patricia Collinge in The Little Foxes, retreats into nostalgia. Sheridan is a resistance member and Beal was an informer in Oslo, but only the immediate family know it at first.
However the performance I like the best is Charles Dingle's. Dingle has always been one of my favorite character players ever. He's Gordon's brother, the owner of the cannery, and he quite deliberately chooses to collaborate with the Germans. He's the kind of villain you love to hate as is Helmut Dantine the commanding officer of the Nazi garrison.
We learn Dingle's fate at the beginning of the film and as the action unfolds in flashback the audience really rejoices in that fate.
No mistake about it, Edge of Darkness is a World War II propaganda film, but still entertaining today