Uncertain Glory (1944)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama, Romance


Uncertain Glory (1944) Poster

After a career criminal is recaptured and knows he faces the guillotine, he offers to exchange his life for 100 hostages slated for execution by the Nazis.


7.1/10
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  • Errol Flynn in Uncertain Glory (1944)
  • Errol Flynn and Paul Lukas in Uncertain Glory (1944)
  • Uncertain Glory (1944)
  • Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn in Uncertain Glory (1944)
  • Errol Flynn in Uncertain Glory (1944)

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3 June 2014 | secondtake
7
| Sharply defined, good moral dilemma, well done!
Uncertain Glory (1944)

A rather good war drama, a bit pre-packaged but very well done, as pretty much all Warner Bros films were from this era. Errol Flynn was at a point in his career when he wanted to become a "leading man" in the broader sense, not just a sword-fighting (and handsome) daredevil.

Key to the movie is the quasi-propaganda quality of the movie, set and made during World War II. That's not a bad thing—it's not government propaganda at all, but simply rooting for the good guys, and putting the French (our allies) in a good light (which they deserve).

The plot twist is simple and comes out early, so this gives nothing away—Flynn is a petty criminal who killed someone in a moment of panic, almost by accident, and he's about to have his head chopped off. But then an opportunity (dramatically and beautifully done) suggests a different way to die: for the Cause. The question is whether he can follow through, or whether he'll follow his new romantic (and idealized) love interest to a free new life.

It's all rather good even if contained in movie expectations. The police detective who is guarding and helping Flynn's character is a stalwart of the period, Paul Lukas, and he adds a needed level of gravity and even complexity to the interactions. Flynn is a cheerful presence—very American (even though he's from Tasmania!)—but he often responds rather than leads his scenes. The third lead is the woman, played with wonderful honesty by Faye Emerson.

Part of enjoying these WWII movies is knowing their context, and getting how the audience was wild for a sense of the war, of knowing who was winning, and of sensing how the scene worked, what the French were really like, what the chances were for a soldier caught up in it all. Their brother, their son. And that's kind of what this movie is about, showing heroism, and goodness, and how the war is a just cause and the Nazis are truly horrible (they were). Flynn does what he needs to do here, and if there is artifice and some lack of total believability, that's almost necessary so that a safe distance and cushion is in place.

Not an essential movie, but a really good one, especially if you already like this kind of film and this era.

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Crime | Drama | Romance | Thriller | War

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