Movie Diary 1/21/2018

Secret Mission (Harold French, 1942). A spiffy wartime espionage picture, as four Allied spies drop into a small French village for some recon and mischief: Hugh Williams and Roland Culver are British military (they masquerade as champagne merchants to infiltrate the German HQ, a nifty sequence), Michael Wilding a comical soldier reluctantly returning to his French wife in the village, James Mason as a French freedom fighter. A very witty script, quite jaunty at times.

Freedom Radio (aka A Voice in the Night, Anthony Asquith, 1941). Fascinating wartime inspiration picture, with Clive Brook as a Berlin physician who gets involved with an anti-Nazi short-wave radio broadcast during the weeks before the outbreak of war. Breezy and funny in its early stages, it gets increasingly taut as it goes along. Diana Wynyard plays the doctor’s wife, an actress-producer hired by the Nazis; her character seems explicitly based on Leni Riefenstahl. It’s not really in the same mode as To Be or Not to Be, but lines occasionally intersect; the movie begins with the doctor exiting Hitler’s office, having diagnosed the fuhrer’s sore throat as a case of too much shouting during speeches.

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