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  • One of the better World War II propaganda films it has stood the test of time far better than a lot in the era. Possibly because the original source was a novel by one of America's best known authors John Steinbeck.

    The story is about the Nazi occupation in a small Norwegian town and it is told from the viewpoint of both the conquered and the conquerors. As such in one of the few films of the era, Nazis are presented as three dimensional people and not just merciless Huns. The film also has no box office name stars which in the long run has probably helped with authenticity.

    The Nazis invaded and occupied Norway to gain control of its long Atlantic coast line and prevent supplies from getting to the Soviet Union from Archangel and Murmansk. Except in certain circumstances the interior was left alone. This was one of those circumstances.

    The town here has an iron mine which is the chief employer. The Reich wanted that mine, wanted the iron ore production stepped up, hence the occupation. Cedric Hardwicke is the commander of the occupying Nazi army and he deals with the occupational hazards of garrisoning a hostile town and making slave labor of its citizens.

    Henry Travers is the mayor and Lee J. Cobb the town doctor and the leading two citizens of the town. Hardwicke tries to work with them and Travers especially tries to explain that you folks just aren't wanted. Hardwicke in fact deliberately refuses to remove Travers from office to put the local Quisling E.J. Ballantine in his place. In the end though he falls back on standard Nazi methods.

    Ballantine should be singled out. He did not make too many film appearances and The Moon Is Down is his first. But even Hardwicke and his troops can't stand a traitor.

    Peter Van Eyck has an interesting role too. The Scandinavians were viewed in the Nazi racial pecking order as fellow Aryans and the bad reception they got when taking over Denmark and Norway was a bit unsettling to their troops. They were told that occupation and the chance to join the Reich would be welcomed. Van Eyck who's a country kid tries to make friends and it unnerves the hate that he's given in return.

    This film is a real gem from the World War II years. It should be rediscovered and evaluated as one of the best films of the era.
  • This movie has no big-box office stars, nor a major director. Yet it tells its story effectively and, sometimes, in a deeply moving fashion, because the script is good and the actors, accustomed to playing character roles, make real individuals out of their assignments.

    The movie starts off by establishing several points: 1) Norway fell fast to the Germans not because they were weak or pro-Nazi, but because they were betrayed from the inside by fifth columnists (Quislings), a fear that runs through several wartime U.S. movies (Keeper of the Flame is perhaps the best of those.) 2) The Norwegians are decent people, and therefore worth helping. The town's militia refuse to shoot at the German paratroopers as they are falling through the sky because "you're not supposed to do that," even though the Germans promptly slaughter the militia from hidden positions.

    This could be compared to American movie presentations of the fall of France, in which the French are not portrayed as having been betrayed from the inside - though in fact they were, to an extent, by Pétain. That may, at least in part, be because the American government maintained diplomatic relations of a sort with the Vichy government until the Germans finally invaded formerly "Free France" in the hope of winning them over, with the result that Pétain could not be portrayed as the traitor he really was.

    This is a fine movie, worth watching.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film brought down quite a lot of criticism on its release because it made the German occupiers human beings instead of the snarling stereotypes expected in 1943.

    Not that it raises any doubts about who is "good" and who is "bad." It begins in one of those cute little European villages, this time in Norway, with happy peasants celebrating a beer fest in the woods, having contests, and so forth. It could be a picnic at a fairgrounds in Iowa.

    Everyone is enjoying himself when suddenly, out of the sky, paratroopers! The handful of militia are promptly dealt with and the Nazi flag now flies over the erstwhile tranquil town of Lutefisk.

    It's a mining town and the Germans need the iron but the miners balk. The villagers also have taken a dislike to the local shop keeper who has betrayed them and paved the way for the occupation. Some of the Nazis are ugly and sneer easily. A stupid, arrogant Nazi captain has a Hitlerian mustached and carries on like a parody in a Mel Brooks movie.

    But what is the response of the Nazi colonel in charge? He's Sir Cedric Hardwicke and he gives a splendid performance as the cool-tempered pragmatist determined to get his job done but who approaches things rationally, without anger, hoping for peace but not expecting it.

    The script makes it possible to see and feel things from his point of view, including his distaste for those who cry for war without ever having fought in one. But none of this stops him from treating any dissident acts with the brutality that the real Nazis displayed.

    It's an unusually intelligent and sensitive screenplay, adapted by Nunnally Johnson from John Steinbeck's novel. Small details are carefully observed, the gentle swoosh of snow sliding down a slanted roof. The disagreements between Hardwicke's colonel and Henry Travers as the town's mayor are framed as a clash of principles. They don't merely pit an evil force against a good one. When a homesick, boyish lieutenant, Peter Van Eyck, enters the local beer hall and tries to strike up a conversation, the scene is poignant. Van Eyck's character is being driven mad by enmity and loneliness. He doesn't last long.

    When the RAF drops dynamite and chocolate to the villagers, they begin blowing up bridges and rail lines. The local traitor has an idea. Arrest the mayor, the doctor, and other community notables and begin executing them. One death for every act of sabotage. The theory is that if you eliminate the leadership, morale collapses and resistance stops. But Hardwicke comes up with an interesting point. When you begin killing important people in the community, the conflict becomes personal in addition to being ideological. For each man you execute, you create a family of new activists. (What if the Nazis used drones?) The doctor has another point. Eliminating the leaders might work well enough in Germany. A year after the release of this film, the generals tried to blow up Hitler. But it doesn't work so well where leadership is dispersed, as it appears to be among the Islamic fundamentalists that now threaten the stability of the Middle East.

    It's propaganda, of course. This is 1943, a year when the war was only beginning to turn. But it's much more perceptive than most of the routine anti-Nazi movies being ground out during the period.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    This is one of a number of films dealing with the German occupation of Norway during World War Two. This one is from a screenplay by Nunnally Johnson taken from the book by John Steinbeck.

    A small town in the north of Norway is taken over by a group of German soldiers with the help of some para-troops. The local Norwegian Militia is quickly wiped out and the German forces occupy the town. The Germans want the town's iron mine for their own use.

    The German commander, Cedric Hardwicke, would like things to go smooth with the locals. If they stay in line, and give the Nazis no problems, they will be treated fairly. Hardwicke also lets the local town leaders, Henry Travers and Lee J Cobb know that he can be nasty if provoked.

    There is soon some unpleasant rumblings coming from the locals forced to work long shifts at the mine. When a German Officer is killed, the firing squad is soon at work making examples of those responsible. This of course just heats up the anger of the locals towards their occupiers. There are also several attempts on the local Quisling leader, E.J. Ballantine.

    Soon the mayor, Travers and other town leaders are rounded up as hostages. The R.A.F. comes a calling one night and blows the hell out of the mine. This sets the German's production goals back by several months. Soon the British are dropping containers of explosives and weapons to aid the resistance.

    Even though the Nazis execute the hostages, the resistance continues to fight on. They manage to destroy most of the mine and its works in a massive act of sabotage.

    This production is different than most of "resistance" type flag wavers of the era. The German's are not all played as heartless baboons. Some are just men doing their bit for country and home. They would rather be anywhere but fighting in a war.

    Cedric Hardwicke is quick good here as the German Commander, as is Henry Travers as the town's mayor.

    Look quick at the start and you will catch film noir regulars, Jeff Corey and Charles McGraw in small unbilled roles. Future "Hogan's Heroes" regular, John "Sgt Schultz" Banner also has a small role as a German Officer. A six year old Natalie Wood appears as well.

    The film is directed by Irving Pichel. Pichel is best known as the director of, SHE, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, DESTINATION MOON, O.S.S., SANTA FE and the noir, QUICKSAND, WITHOUT HONOR and THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME.

    The look of the film is quite sharp with 7 time Oscar nominated, and 3 time winner, Art Miller at the d of p controls. Miller would know the sets very well, as they were the same ones he shot his Oscar winner, HOW GREEN MY VALLEY on in 1941.
  • If you are looking for a realistic portrayal of WWII and the German occupation of Norway, perhaps this isn't the best film ("The Heroes of Telemark" is probably better for that). This is NOT a criticism of "The Moon is Down" fact it's a very good film and did its job of inspiring the American people during WWII.

    The film is set in Norway just before the German invasion of 1940. The townspeople in a small mining town are all happy and oblivious to the coming stampede. Soon Nazis flood the country and their leader in the town (Cedric Hardwicke) has one obedience from the people. To do so, they'll kill as many people as they need to in order to keep the iron mine opening and running at capacity. But the locals cannot stand their new German overlords and throughout the film, they work to undermine the occupiers...even at the risk of their lives. This all leads to a VERY rousing finale-- one that still packs a powerful punch today.

    This Twentieth Century Fox film is interesting because it shows the Germans as being brutal...but no more so than they actually were in their occupied territories! Instead of focusing too much on this, the movie really centers on the resistance of the Norwegians. An inspiring and well made film based on a story from John Steinbeck of all people. Well worth seeing.
  • The Germans invade Norway. Mayor Orden (Henry Travers) is a respected leader of the small port town Selvik. Their young men are off to train when an invasion takes them by surprise. They are ambushed by the Germans led by Colonel Lanser (Cedric Hardwicke). George Corell is the traitorous storekeeper and Dr. Albert Winter (Lee J. Cobb) calls him out. Lanser needs the iron mines to continue operating and demands cooperation from Orden's town.

    This is adapted from author John Steinbeck's novel. It is solidly made with good actors. It's more of an intellectual work rather than a visceral thriller. There are some long exchanges which dig into the concepts of occupation. It keeps the movie somewhat static and the intensity suppressed. It doesn't shy away from the brutality but it's not an action movie. This is a solid fairly realistic wartime movie rallying the peoples under occupation. As propaganda, it is heroic and hits many of the right notes.
  • kijii6 January 2017
    This movie is based on one of John Steinbeck's lesser-known novels. I have a feeling that Steinbeck wrote the novel for much the same reason that the movie was made: Propaganda in support of the War.

    Nunnally Johnson wrote the play for the movie, based on Steinbeck's novel, just as he had written the screenplay for Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Nunnaly's wife, Dorris Bodon, had an acting role of both of these movies. The movie's director, Irving Pichel, had a small unaccredited role, here, as the Inn Keeper. Natalie Wood made her first screen appearance in this movie and then went on to make her 2nd, 3rd and 4th movie appearances in Irving Pichel-directed movies: Happy Land (1943), Tomorrow Is Forever, (1943), and The Bride Wore Boots (1946).

    This movie is not so much star-oriented as it is character–oriented, with great character actors taking on the main roles. Cedric Hardwick plays Col Lanser, the coy and pragmatic Nazi officer who is assigned to take over a small Norwegian mining village for it rich iron mines. After the German victory, the village historian, Dr. Winter (Lee J. Cobb), acerbically jokes with its mayor, Orden (Henry Travers), that the German victory only took 4 hours and the victory was announced before anyone know there was even a battle.

    The "victory" takes place as hundreds of German paratroopers are dropped into the small village while its tiny militia is enjoying a picnic and shooting contest in the country. The picnic had been arranged by the local store keeper, George Corell (E.J. Ballantine), with the hope that he will be quickly advanced up the German ranks and sent to Berlin.

    When Col Lanser interviews Dr. Winter, the mayor, and his wife, Sarah (Margaret Wycherly), they are outraged by Corell's treachery. When Lanser tells Orden that the miners must work harder to supply iron for Germany, Odren tells him that Germans do not understand the people they conquer--they never have, and they never will. Free people do not take orders from a dictator, they live to be free and their freedom is build around an idea—not an order from a dictator. Just as Odren says, the people of the village are not easily pushed around. It is easier to conquer a country in battle than it is to occupy it by telling its free people what they MUST do to stay alive.

    The movie demonstrates this and it also has scenes that demonstrate that soldiers are trained to fight and win territory–not to manage the people they have vanquished. Not only do the Norwegians slow down their work in the mines, they also commit acts of sabotage on those mines, and engage in other acts of resistance against the Germans who occupy them. This only increases as the RAF drops parachuted packets of dynamite to help them with these many "small" acts of resistance such as blowing up bridges and roads and other means of production and distribution of the mined iron that is to be used by Nazis in their war.

    In the end, the German soldiers grow tired of being hated by the locals and guarding against their acts of resistance rather than fighting wars. This is demonstrated when one soldier, Lt. Tonder (Peter van Eyck), tries to just enjoy the simple company of one Norwegian woman, Molly Morden (Dorris Bowdon). Though she is lonely and is very hungry— food is being withheld from the families in order to feed the soldiers and iron miners—she remembers that Tonder was responsible for killing her husband. So, she stabs Tonder to death with a pair of scissors then manages to escape to Sweden.

    In the end, "the flies conquer the flypaper."
  • "Haven't we some little right to life?"

    To that question by one of the characters in the Nazi-conquered Norwegian town, actually, no, not when governments say "Fight. Destroy. Kill."

    When governments say "You must have a number" and "You must carry this card embossed with that number" or "You must wear this uniform" and "You must kill that other human being," you are being considered as property, and that means you no longer have rights.

    At least that is how governments want you to believe.

    You are expected to obey, not think. Obey, not have desires of your own. You are a cog in the great machinery of the state.

    "The Moon Is Down" was intended specifically as anti-Nazi propaganda, coming as it did shortly after the United States entered World War II, but there is a deeper and more universal meaning.

    Even Nazis, or at least German soldiers lured or forced into war by German leaders of the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazis, have some vestiges of humanity -- at least some of them.

    Told their lives belong to the state, to the fatherland, and that they must act, even die, for purposes of the Master Race, and not to think of or for themselves, still sometimes selfish desires rise to the fore, and such basics as love or freedom motivate more than do orders.

    Death and destruction are inevitable results of the subordination of individuals and individuality to the state, to the society, to the race.

    Humanity's bloodiest century, the twentieth, proved the truth of that statement with the rise of Nazism and Communism, both of which demanded the submersion of individuals into the mass.

    When individual humans no longer matter, mass murders become mere matters of strategy, or "the continuation of politics by other means," as von Clausewitz is quoted.

    Few movies illustrate the horror and degradation of war and governments better than "The Moon Is Down," which was presented on Turner Classic Movies the night of 2 January 2017. I had read the John Steinbeck book decades ago and not appreciated that message, not even seen it, that early in my life.

    Now, though, after long years lived with the threat of war or some act of tyranny hanging over me nearly every day of that time, I do appreciate the tale and its moral, or at least the moral I now see.

    Steinbeck wrote this, a good summation of the meaning of "The Moon Is Down": "Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars."

    We are engaged on a daily basis in an ongoing war of individualism versus a leader, versus the mob, versus the collective, versus the state, or, especially these last few decades, versus a murderous and destructive movement some try to call a religion.

    I would like to recommend "The Moon Is Down" in both book and movie form, not for entertainment, since there is no joy or pleasure in either, but for the object lesson: Do not let politicians and governments control your life.
  • There are only a few period wartime stories told around events in the occupied Kingdom of Norway, and this is one of the better efforts. Sir Cedric Hardwicke is the Nazi colonel sent to supervise a small town that exists to support a nearby iron-ore mine. A sophisticate, of sorts, he initially attempts to deal reasonably with the townspeople led by their Mayor (Henry Travers) but soon realises that these people are not the type to sit idly by, sabotage soon becomes rife - and a battle of wills - and philosophies - ensues. It has some subtly to it, both Hardwicke and Peter van Eyck ("Lt. Tonder") demonstrate some degree of humanity from the occupier's perspective, and both Travers and Lee J. Cobb ("Dr. Winter") deliver well as the peaceful, elderly, men who do not consider themselves to be brave, but they are proud and are determined to see off their murderous guests - even if it costs them their lives. It is plausible, which helps enormously, and the pace from Irving Pichel draws us into their ghastly predicament well. Made mid-WWII, it has a slight tinge of propaganda to it, but the characters have an element of authenticity about them that makes this a decidedly more nuanced watch than many of it's time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This lavish World War II propaganda piece is melodramatic I'm here from the very start which has an unseen, ranting Hitler pounding on a map of Norway and making commands in German. The film opens with a group of Norwegian use having a get-together and witnessing the parachuting of Nazi soldiers out of their planes, and the dramatic rival General Sir Cedric Hardwicke into their town. Their major source of income comes from Iron Mine that the Germans want access to in order to utilize the iron for their weapons of war. Mayor Henry Travers realizes immediately who betrayed them to the Nazis, and the guilty party simply claims that he was following his beliefs. But when beliefs result in the deaths of fellow countrymen, then. Quisling / Trader must be eradicated!

    "Let them look to Norway", Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in a speech that ended the same years' "Edge of Darkness", which dealt with a coastal town in Norway taken over by Nazis. This is a very different film, having similar ideals but focusing on different types of events, so the two actually make good companion pieces together. From the very beginning, Hardwicke insists that they are not there as enemies, only in need of the iron and willing to keep peace as long as they are allowed to do what they need to do. But the Norwegians are not a people who are used to being told what to do by outsiders which results very quickly in systematic executions. Radios, gun weapons are removed from the homes, and this results in the Norwegian villagers to take courageous matters into their own hand.

    This is a terrific Ensemble piece with no real lead actors, but Hardwicke, Travers and Margaret Wycherly as Traver's wife are among the top billed. It is lavish, well photographed and certainly patriotic for the message it was trying to display for audiences in America at the time. It's a nice follow-up for Travers who won acclaim the previous year creating a rose just for Greer Garson in "Mrs. Miniver". While they're certainly are many unpleasant moments showing the Nazi atrocities, there are quiet moments that show the reasons why the Norwegians values are freedom and will risk everything to fight for it. A German soldier in love with a Norwegian girl finds this out the hard way when she invites him into her room. The direction by Irving Pichel exists in fulfilling each of its goals, and this is exciting and riveting from start to finish.
  • In a small Norwegian mining town where all the signs are in English, the Nazis invade, under the command of Cedric Hardwicke. Gradually, their cruel policies lead to the rising of the townsmen in The Moon is Down, based on a novel by John Steinbeck.

    Director Irving Pichel -- he has a small part as an innkeeper -- works from a low-key script by Nunnally Johnson, and the entire film is played in an engagingly low-key fashion by Hardwicke, the inimitable Henry Travers as the town's mayor, and Lee J. Cobb as the mayor's friend. It's an effective propaganda film from 20th Century-Fox right in the middle of the U.S.'s war.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Moon is Down" is one of the best anti-Nazi and anti-war propaganda films of all time. It was made at the height of World War II and was released in the U.S. in March 1943. While the movie didn't show in occupied countries of Scandinavia until after the war, the book on which it was based had been translated in several languages and distributed across Europe, including Russia. The John Steinbeck novel by the same title was published in March 1942.

    The book doesn't name countries or real historical characters. The setting is a town in northern Europe that was occupied by troops of a country that isn't named. It is at war with England and Russia. It lies along a coast and has a coal mine. The movie, of course, puts names on the obvious. It's a Norwegian village that has an iron mine, and the German's invade and occupy the town. They press the town's people into running the iron mine 12 hours a day. They are able to take the town easily because a town traitor arranges a ruse for the dozen militiamen to be in the country training. When they see a German parachute drop, they hurry back toward town. The Germans have a trap set up and mow them down with a machine gun.

    The bulk of the film from thereon is a drama and battle of wills between the Norwegian people and the German commanders. It's a powerful movie, with philosophical discussions about the will of the people and dislike for enslavement. This takes place mostly between German Col. Lansen, Mayor Orden, and Dr. Albert Winter. Cedric Hardwicke plays Lanser, Henry Travers is the mayor and Lee J. Cobb is the doctor. Other characters have some dramatic roles and action scenes. E.J. Ballantine is George Corell, the traitor who disguised himself nicely and was liked by the children and people of the town. With the German occupation, we see his true colors and a change in character to a hardened persecutor. Dorris Bowden plays Molly Morden, whose husband is killed by the Germans after he strikes a German officer who dies. Peter van Eyck is Lt. Tonder, a German officer who longs for home and wants to get along with the people. He meets his end at the hand of Molly.

    This film has several messages about justice, vengeance, retribution, oppression, freedom, loyalty, family, and complicity. One that stands out is Lt. Tonder. While he may otherwise be a good person and gentle soul, he is part of an occupying army that is killing people of another place. He just wants the local people to accept their plight so everyone can get along. He is complicit in the crimes against humanity.

    While the film, the village and the Norwegian people portrayed are stoic, the lack of any emotion is exaggerated to the point that it shakes the believability of the film toward the end. Except for one wife who cries as her husband goes off to his execution, no one shows an iota of fear, hurt, anger, real sorrow or loss. Such a dispassionate composure almost seems like aloofness on the part of the people. At times, they seem like robots.

    That may have been the intention of the director and screenwriters, for stark comparison and shock effect. But, it's the one reason I didn't give the film 10 stars. It just misses being believable beyond a doubt. But there's no doubt about the encouragement for people overrun by Germany to resist the captors in every way possible.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ****SPOILERS**** John Steinbeck's novel about a Norwegian town's resistance against its Nazi occupiers that ends up with it being blown to smatterings by the Norwegian freedom fighters to keep it out of the Nazis control. It's the town mayor Orden, Henry Travers, who's anything but heroic who in the end shows his fellow Norwegians how to stand up to their Nazi occupiers by going proudly to his death-by hanging-singing together his fellow townspeople the Norwegian national anthem. For a movie made in the US during WWII "The Moon is Down" doesn't show the Nazis or Germans as pure evil but with, I know this is hard to take, having human feeling even for those, the members of the Norwegian resistance, out to kill them and kick them out of the country.

    There's the touching story of German Army Let. Tonder, Peter Van Eyck, who was in charge of the execution squad that gunned down Norwegian Alex Morden,William Post Jr., for cracking open German Capt. Bentick's, Hans Schumm, skull after he spat in his face. The home as well as love sick Let. Tonder fell in love with Morden's wife Molly,Dorris Bowdon, and tried to make it with her as her new boyfriend only to be tricked by Molly to have his back turned to her and get it, with a pair of scissors, in the spine. You couldn't help but feel sorry for Tonder in that his feelings for Molly were truly genuine and what he did in having her husband shot was the result which became a very popular defense during at Nurenburg and ever since among war criminal, except the top men,of just following orders .

    ****SPOILERS**** The explosive ending to the movie has the scheduled mass execution of the leaders of the village interrupted by an massive number of explosions that levels the entire town before the executions can be carried out. That has those including Mayor Orden who were about to be hanged get the last laugh in knowing that their sacrifices in standing up to Nazi aggression was not in vain. There's also in the film the low down rotten swine and traitor George Corell, E.J Ballintine, who's soon to get all that's coming to him, off camera, from his Nazi masters as well as the Norwegian people by him unwittingly encouraging the townspeople, by having them abused and shot, to stand up and fight back with a fighting fury they, in being peaceful and non violent, never up until then thought that they had in them.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Moon Is Down" is based on a John Steinbeck novel of the same name. The movie was produced in 1943, the novel was published in 1942. Steinbeck's novel was a bit more circumspect in its treatment of the subject. He never named the Germans as the occupiers or Norway as the occupied. It was simply a story of an occupation. Clearly, though, Steinbeck was referring to the German occupation of Norway, and the movie makes that clear. It seems to be set in a small town in Norway in the early days of the Nazi occupation, which would be 1940. Both novel and book were and should be seen as anti- Nazi propaganda pieces - the novel actually won an award presented after the War by the King of Norway. But it's interesting propaganda. This is no simple good vs. evil, black vs. white issue. The Germans are not portrayed as monsters (at least, not as monstrously as might have been expected at the time.) Instead, the various characters evolve as the story moves forward. In that sense, it's a very human movie. At its start, the townspeople are peaceful and even docile villagers, leading quiet and happy lives, most of them working in a local iron mine. But the Nazis want the iron, take over the town and force the workers to increase production, using various threats against their families as a weapon.

    The Nazi commander - Col. Lanser - was played by Cedric Hardwicke. He did a good job with the role, and Lanser was not a stereotypical Nazi. He came across as thoughtful and cautious, wanting to co- operate with the townspeople more than dominate them and very aware of the potential perils of pushing things too far. He wants to work with the local mayor (Orden, played by Henry Travers), much to the chagrin of the local Quisling-type (Corell, played by E.J. Ballantine) who thinks that he should be immediately put in charge. The relationship between the three is fascinating. Lanser and Orden both come across as men of principle who are capable of having intelligent and respectful conversations, while Corell is more ruthless, and while he assumes that he should be in charge he's also surprised to discover that he is rejected by the villager. Among the lower ranking German officers Capt. Loft is much more what one expects in the portrayal of a Nazi, while Lt. Tonder is a more sympathetic character - a young man who seems to want to develop friendly relations with the locals (including one young woman in particular) and who explains that he doesn't want to be there, he just has no choice. What we watch is the gradually increasing German violence and the evolution of the townspeople into resistance fighters, aided by having the British drop them dynamite and chocolate, which leads to acts of sabotage.

    The movie ultimately leads up to an order to have 10 leading men of the town executed unless the sabotage comes to an end. That leads to an interesting reflection on the differences between the Nazis and "free men," from Mayor Orden, who basically notes that if you killed ten German leaders the war would be over, but killing ten leaders of free men makes no difference, because others will just rise to take their place. It's a very effective ending. As the ten selected for execution stand in front of the gallows from which they are to be hanged there's suddenly a huge series of explosions from the surrounding buildings. The message is clearly - "we are not beaten." This was a very good movie with good performances all around, and I did appreciate the more nuanced portrayal of the various German characters. (8/10)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    We're shown two things right from the beginning. First, that the Nazi's are invading Norway, expecting total cooperation... and...also that the citizens of the small berg where they land have no intention of cooperating. Cedric Hardwicke does a convincing job as the German commander leading the charge, in spite of his British accent. Henry Travers (Clarence, from Wonderful Life !) is the town mayor, and knows his people better than than the soldiers. They say a couple times that the people of Norway have known only peace for so long that they have become complacent, and ignorant of war tactics. SO much talking. "Moon" feels more like a play than a novel by Steinbeck. Very different from his other works. The mayor and the German commander spend much of the film having quiet, peaceful debates over serious issues. Quite well done. Some other big names in here. van Eyck plays the German Lieutenant, who is a little too simple to be believed; he tries to make friends with the townspeople, but professes surprise when they don't return the friendship. Lee Cobb is the town doctor. It DOES have some hallmarks of a Steinbeck novel -- plain, down to earth, gritty citizens, showing their daily battles and tribulations. Direction and screenplay by Irvin Pichel. He did this right around mid-career... he had been making films for ten years, and would continue to do so for another ten years. Good stuff. Hadn't seen this one before. Simple but poignant WW II story.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a tremendous book, and given the constraints of wartime, the film isn't a bad representation. The music occasionally errs on the side of mawkishness, there's a slightly awkward mix of actors playing the Germans, and whether or not they should speak with a German accent perhaps should have been decided upon for the sake of consistency before filming began. Other than that though, here is a good look at life under occupation. The town is only defended by twelve men, and is "conquered" in one deft swoop with little damage. But the real story is that while the Germans may occupy the town and while it's inhabitants can do little directly against soldiers with guns, like "flies conquering flypaper" the German's are in a trap of their own making, and nothing they can do will conquer the minds or win the hearts of the people that they seek to oppress. As Mayor Orden tells the soon to be shot Alex Morden at a kangaroo court of German Officers, "Go Knowing that these men will never again have any rest at all until they're gone from Norway or dead".
  • Compared with Lewis Milestone's "The Edge of Darkness" from the same year and on basically the same kind of story, Steinbeck's and Nunnally Johnson's film falls flat on its overdone bathos - this isn't credible, as if Steinbeck had exclusively written this book for propaganda. The Germans are all ruthless villains (with two exceptions), and the poor Norwegians are all victims. It's all black and white and nothing between. The only interesting nuance is Peter van Eyck as the young German lieutenant who falls in love with a local girl, which incident is the most interesting one in the film, as the Germans previously have killed her husband. Cedric Hardwicke also adds some character to the film by his rather moderate appearance with some bitter experience from the previous world war - he knows what it is all about, which the local idiot Quisling does not. Lee J. Cobb as the old doctor also makes the film worth seeing, and the final scene gives this rather sordid and superficial war occupation account like also the book its validity, which is lacking up till then. It's not one of Steinbeck's best novels, and it's not one of Irving Pichel's best films. It's too much allied war propaganda preaching hatred of the Germans to the audiences and too little of the true human drama, which "The Edge of Darkness" succeeds in emphasizing.