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Despite being directed by Jean Renoir and set in Vichy France, This Land is Mine never for one second gives the impression that there's anything remotely French about it or its characters, but in a strange way that works in the film's favor as a propaganda picture: this isn't a universally French story but one that could just as easily have happened in the USA had the Nazis won.

Dudley Nichols' script is a surprisingly intelligent look at the nature of collaboration and the self-righteous moral delusion of the Vichy Government that justified a baser mercenary self-interest. Walter Slezak's Nazi isn't an obvious stereotype, more a pragmatic idealist rather than a fanatic - a true believer, but one who doesn't want the situation in the town to escalate because his job is easier if it doesn't. He's the one constantly offering practical solutions to avoid reprisals. Similarly, George Sanders' collaborator's belief that the Nazis and the Vichy French share many of the same political philosophies and so are a morally justifiable partnership doesn't make him immune to torment at the consequences of that union.

That it all ends in a series of speeches from Charles Laughton's timid schoolteacher curiously doesn't detract, especially since the film regards thought and speech as expressions of resistance every bit as valid as acts of sabotage. Renoir even manages to draw a good performance out of Maureen O'Hara, with none of her usual broad cartoon bluster, and even Una O'Connor is almost tolerable for once.
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on 5 February 2012
Often dismissed today as flag-waving wartime "filler," this underrated 1943 drama builds to an emotional finale that's as understated as it is compelling. Modern charges of preachiness, datedness and propagandistic are not only unfair, but ultimately pointless. Almost every character is "shaded." None are simplistic or caricatured, not even the villains. Indeed, the film makes a point of showing that everyone is, in reality, "two people." Made during a time of worldwide chaos and upheaval, the thoughtful and intelligent screenplay by Dudley Nichols is just as relevant today as it was 70 years ago.

The film asks an audacious, unflinching question: Is it worth the lives of the innocent to combat tyranny and oppression? THIS LAND IS MINE doesn't pretend to have easy answers - but it does have a point of view, and makes its case convincingly. I found the final scene in which a transformed schoolmaster bids farewell to his young class of future citizens both honest and unexpectedly moving. Never has a reading of The DECLARATION Of The RIGHTS Of MAN sounded more eloquent, carried more conviction or packed such an emotional wallop. This film deserves to be better known. Forget what the "experts" say, and give it a chance. Lastly, the stellar quality of the film's celebrated stars, director and supporting cast of veteran character actors goes without saying.
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Despite being directed by Jean Renoir and set in Vichy France, This Land is Mine never for one second gives the impression that there's anything remotely French about it or its characters, but in a strange way that works in the film's favor as a propaganda picture: this isn't a universally French story but one that could just as easily have happened in the USA had the Nazis won.

Dudley Nichols' script is a surprisingly intelligent look at the nature of collaboration and the self-righteous moral delusion of the Vichy Government that justified a baser mercenary self-interest. Walter Slezak's Nazi isn't an obvious stereotype, more a pragmatic idealist rather than a fanatic - a true believer, but one who doesn't want the situation in the town to escalate because his job is easier if it doesn't. He's the one constantly offering practical solutions to avoid reprisals. Similarly, George Sanders' collaborator's belief that the Nazis and the Vichy French share many of the same political philosophies and so are a morally justifiable partnership doesn't make him immune to torment at the consequences of that union.

That it all ends in a series of speeches from Charles Laughton's timid schoolteacher curiously doesn't detract, especially since the film regards thought and speech as expressions of resistance every bit as valid as acts of sabotage. Renoir even manages to draw a good performance out of Maureen O'Hara, with none of her usual broad cartoon bluster, and even Una O'Connor is almost tolerable for once.
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on 6 January 2013
If you haven't seen this world war 2 film i urge you to.Great message of sacrifice,heroism and LOVE for mothers,sons,neighbours,country and freedom.Very moving.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 February 2016
Having fled the Nazi invasion of his native France, Jean Renoir perhaps felt duty bound to contribute to Hollywood’s Anti-Nazi propaganda machine with this 1943 film (one of many such films made in Hollywood during this period). This Land Is Mine is certainly something of a curiosity, mixing a strong anti-Nazi theme with some radical (anti-capitalist) sentiment and driven along by an intricate (and, ultimately, largely successful) plot and screenplay by Dudley Nichols (of Bringing Up Baby, Scarlet Street, etc. fame). I must admit, with the film’s anonymous 'somewhere in Europe’ tag, its fluent English-speaking Germans and its obvious studio-based sets, I found the first 20 minutes or so rather clunky – however, largely by virtue of its increasingly engaging cast and Nichols’ inventive plotting, which quite perceptively explores the issues around collaboration and personal responsibility, the film eventually had me emotionally hooked (despite the repeated bouts of obligatory propagandist preaching).

As well as the blatant anti-Nazi theme, Renoir’s film is also an engaging depiction of the transformation of a man, the always reliable Charles Laughton’s timid, mocked schoolteacher, Albert Lory, (with a crush on Maureen O’Hara’s glamorous Louise Martin) from cowardly reticence to committed self-confidence, in the face of the occupying oppressors. The 'ease’ and potential benefits of collaboration are nicely portrayed by Walter Slezak’s smooth-talking, educated German, Major Erich von Keller (who has some of the film’s best lines), Thurston Hall’s corrupt Mayor Manville and George Sanders’ typically slimy George Lambert (Louise’s intended). Elsewhere, Una O’Connor delivers a near film-stealing performance as 'mummy’s boy’ Albert’s feisty mother, Una, whilst Kent Smith is also impressive as the 'collaborator’ (and brother to Louise) Paul. From a relatively pedestrian (and predictable) opening, eventually the (largely 'guilt-driven’) interplay of Renoir’s main characters raises the level of tension and engagement and makes for a thrilling watch. There is also an intriguing theme around education and censorship (and the link to democracy), as von Keller and his cohorts encourage the ripping out of pages from great literary works.

There may be a sense of inevitability about Laughton’s concluding courtroom ‘confession’, with its elements of preaching, but it is nevertheless still impressively delivered with the actor’s calm assurance. For me, not a great film – obviously not as subtle as Renoir’s anti-war masterpiece La Grande Illusion – but still sits respectably alongside other wartime propaganda films such as Mrs Miniver, Went The Day Well, Man Hunt, etc.
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on 29 January 2012
Charles laughtons courtroom speech at the end of the film was the highlight for me....such a marvelous actor.Dated of course,but well worth watching...another gem from years gone by.
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on 31 March 2010
this film is a classic America film set in occupied France
bigger than life acting from some very good actors
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on 3 December 2014
recommend
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on 9 June 2014
You would have thought that with Charles Laughton and George Sanders that this would be a better film but it's not. There is a pathetic scene where Laughton holds the gun that Sanders has shot himself with and is spotted by a witness who thinks Laughton has committed the murder. This has been on television quite a few times with the famous scene where Laughton cries out from his cell: 'Professor Sorrell. PROFESSOR SORRELL.' The poor professor gets shot.
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