13 August 2012 | blanche-2
good propaganda film
With bigger stars away fighting, it was John Sutton's chance at a good lead in "Tonight We Raid Calais," a 1943 film starring Annabella, Lee J. Cobb, Beulah Bondi, Blanche Yurka, and Howard da Silva.
Sutton plays an Englishman, Geoffrey Carter, fluent in French, who is sent into Occupied France to find a German weapons factory so that it can be bombed. There are several factories, but only one is actually making anything.
Carter lands in France, moves in with a family, and poses as the son who has come back from the service. Actually, the son, Philippe is dead, but only the villagers know this. It soon becomes evident that not everyone wants to help the English, in particular, Philippe's sister Odette (Annabella), who is in charge of the baby Philippe left behind, his wife having died in childbirth.
At something like 71 minutes, this is a short film to have been the main feature. I suspect it was a second feature, as Darryl Zanuck had turned his back on Annabella's career after she married his major star, Tyrone Power, against his wishes. Annabella was probably very interested in this film, as her own brother had been killed by the Nazis, and she had been a wreck in the late '30s trying to get her mother and daughter out of France. During the war, she also entertained the troops, and she and Tyrone Power raised money for war orphans.
Handsome John Sutton does a good job, and he's surrounded by a fine cast. Lee J. Cobb and Beulah Bondi play Odette's parents. It's a shame that Annabella's career was cut short by her marriage - she was a wonderful actress and a huge star in her native France. She's a real asset here.
One reviewer on this site said that "everybody speaks English." Actually they don't, they're speaking French or German. As with plays by Chekov, one assumes everyone is speaking Russian, or that in a film set in Spain, they're all speaking Spanish. That's why accents aren't really necessary.
Very good movie, fast-moving and suspenseful.