Movie Diary 10/1/2018

The Day Will Dawn (Harold French, 1942). An attempt to rally the population in wartime Britain – the movie repeatedly supplies speeches about why it’s important to come to the aid of your European allies. Hugh Williams plays a sportwriter assigned to get war stories in Norway, where he meets lively nordic lass Deborah Kerr (her next movie was The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) and her tough father Finlay Currie. Ralph Richardson, also a reporter, provides a couple of stirring passages. The whole thing is meant to serve a purpose, and it does, right through the grim final section. Roland Culver has a great entrace, blithely striding into a pub seconds after a bomb drops outside: “All right, gentlemen, you can resume the vertical….”

The Two-Headed Spy (Andre De Toth, 1958). Jack Hawkins plays a British agent embedded in the German military for twenty-five years; now he’s a general, and feeling the strain of never being able to have his own life. (He’s obsessed with clocks, understandably.) This is a pretty decent yarn, based on a true story even if far-fetched. Gia Scala plays the woman who might afford Hawkins a romance, Alexander Knox is a suspicious fellow Nazi. The story has its generic qualities, but from the first moments you can tell somebody’s directing it; De Toth constantly finds dynamic angles from which to slice the action. Even the corny device of not showing Hitler’s face – an approach usually reserved for Jesus himself – becomes a way of locating evil within the frame. The movie’s look is very 1958, and the female costuming is definitely of the Eisenhower era (Scala, who died a suicide at age 36, gives an engaged and intelligent performance).