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on 23 July 2009
Hitchcock - The Wartime Resistance Films (includes Bon Voyage and Aventure Malgache) [DVD]
Obviously made with a low budget, these give the impression they have been made in a very small studio, and feel a little claustrophobic. Well shot and acted, the plots are too slight to be of interest except to film buffs and fans of Hitch
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 November 2016
Two short propaganda films made in 1944 after Lifeboat for The Ministry of Information performed by The Molière Players in French to aid the war effort amongst French speakers and highlight the work of The Resistance. These British Film Institute restorations finally added English subtitles in the 1990's and being directed by Alfred Hitchcock they are of interest to his fans. Of the two Bon Voyage is the more interesting and uses flashback to tell the tale of the escape of RAF Sergeant John Dougill as related to a French Military Intelligence Officer in London. He is accompanied by a Polish officer, and describes his escape through resistance channels before a small plane picks him up and takes him back to England, bringing a letter from the Polish officer with him. The tale is told fairly straightforwardly until half way through the film, when the Intelligence Officer reveals what really happened. The 'Polish officer' is actually a Gestapo spy, willing to let Dougill escape to catch bigger fish. As they are processed through the chain of resistance contacts the Gestapo are wiping the chain out as they discover who the contacts are. The letter contains military misinformation to hinder the Allies' war effort. It's a salutary tale of caution and displays the risks run by ordinary French citizens fighting for the freedom of France.

The second tale, Aventure Malgache is also told in flashback, but here the timing is a post-war future. A company of actors are preparing for a play, and the lead character and originator of the story, "Paul Clarus", in real life lawyer Jules François Clermont, relates what is supposed to be a true tale of resistance in French territory Madagascar. Clarus is reminded of the wartime tale by the physical appearance of another actor who resembles a much hated Vichy regime puppet. Events in Madagascar are shown in flashback, with Clarus leading a double life, seemingly loyal to the Vichy official but running an illegal radio station in aid of the resistance which helped spirit many French loyal to the Allies away from the island by boat. He describes how he used office contacts in the shipyard to aid this process, with the office worker himself risking his life to smuggle out the information. The Vichy official is shown in his true cowardly colours when the British capture the island. This isn't as satisfying a film, but then the main purpose wasn't for entertainment but to show the brave work of the resistance and bolster the war effort. Unfortunately neither film was shown widely following production but one copy of each was saved, allowing Hitchcock's wartime efforts to be viewed by fans. Probably of interest to Hitchcock completists and students of wartime propaganda only.
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