26 May 2003 | coltrane679
Well-done drama masquerading as "training film"
Thanks to TCM for giving us an opportunity to see this gem. Made by the Army Air Force's famous First Movie Unit well into the war (1944), this is one of their most polished efforts. It has a simple, but effective narrative: a US air crew of 5 is downed by the Nazis, who use every trick in the book (short of torture) to pump information out of them: ingratiation, intimidation, deceit and psychological welfare. None of the downed fliers means to co-operate with the enemy, but each in his own way contributes some information to their clever Nazis captors, which is then pieced together by the Nazi commanding officer, somewhat flamboyantly portrayed by Carl Esmond. The consequences are disaster.
The point of the film as a training device (forcefully driven home by Lloyd Nolan in the closing sequence) was that ANY information, no matter how innocent or trivial seeming on its face, could complete the jigsaw puzzle for Nazi intelligence services. All that should EVER be revealed to ANYONE outside your own crew once you were captured was name, rank and serial number. A simple lesson, you would suppose, but for 70 minutes (rather lengthy by the genre's standards, I think) the point is expertly honed by a fairly effective little drama.
In addition to Nolan, the other "big name" actor here is a young Arthur Kennedy, who appeared in many excellent films over the following quarter century.