4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Just as good a movie as I remembered - mildly annoying that the only available box is labelled in French,
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This review is from: 36 Hours (1964) Region 2 PAL Widescreen (2.35:1) (Import) (DVD)
I watched this as a kid and recalled being enthralled by the basic premise of such an all-encompassing deception, and by fine performances by all the lead actors. Re-watching, I still was enthralled, and was further impressed with the believable way in which the writers had inserted the highly fictional events into the actual history of D-Day. For example, they made use of the fact that the invasion was postponed by one day due to bad weather. Little details like the name of the D-Day deception operation - "Fortitude" - are slipped in casually, without explanation, but show the writers had done their homework.
It is a measure of how well the film is constructed that I felt genuinely tense in the first part of the film when it looked as if the deception would succeed in getting the date and place of the invasion out of James Garner's character, Major Pike - despite it being fairly well known that the Normandy landings did achieve surprise. The pace falters for a bit after Pike discovers what is happening, but then picks up again and becomes an exciting escape story with several twists and turns that I had forgotten. Several of the German characters are portrayed fairly sympathetically; as trapped themselves in a system that kills scapegoats in the event of failure. Even the villain is shown as logically motivated by fear of the consequences of failure.
(Aren't you glad that Pike and Hedler went back for the dropped case notes, in fulfillment of their promise?)
The ending refrains from too much sentimentality. Yes, most of the good guys are still alive at the end of the film and the bad guy learns, very briefly, that he is not the only "practical man" out there (nice touch about the watch!), but, no, the lead characters do not fall in love and make the marriage deception come true in the end. However there is a suggestion in the closing moments that Anna Hedler might be beginning to heal that is very moving.
This edition is labelled in French on the box, but it is suitable for viewing in Britain. Select "langues, audio, anglais" to get the sound in English, then "sous-titres, aucun" to get no subtitles. Or you could see what it's like in French if you prefer. But why is there a problem at all in making this minor classic available in an ordinary British edition?