Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bon voyage

GB 1944 (unreleased at the time). PC: Phoenix / Ministry of Information [GB]. D: Alfred Hitchcock. SC: Angus MacPhail, J.O.C. Orton, Claude Dauphin - based on a subject by Arthur Calder-Marshall. DP: Günther Krampf. AD: J. Charles Gilbert. M: Benjamin Frankel. Cast: John Blythe (Sgt. John Dougal), The Molière Players. Version originale française. 26 min. A BFINA print screened with electronic subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Alfred Hitchcock), 5 September 2012.

The Molière Players were not credited in order to protect their families from the Nazis.

Synopsis by Howard Maxford: "RAF pilot Sergeant John Dougal (John Blythe) recounts to an officer of the French Free Force in London how he escaped from occupied territory with the help of a Polish Resistance fighter named Stefan Godowski. Recalling their various adventures, he reveals how Godowski had to kill a Vichy informer so as to save their skins. However, at the end of his story, Sergeant Dougal is informed that Godowski was in fact a Gestapo agent, using Dougal as a means to flush out as many Resistance fighters as possible, among them the Vichy informer whom he murdered, who was in fact another Resistance worker".

A twice-told tale: first we receive the RAF gunner's account, then the true account in which everything we have seen gets a new, often reversed, meaning. We learn that the farm girl, Dougal's last helper, whom Dougal had planned to visit after the war, was murdered by the Gestapo immediately after Dougal's departure. Under the Arc de Triomphe there should be a grave for the Unknown Civilian.

Not a great film, but interesting to watch every now and then. "The spies are a species of their own". There is a ring of truth in many details of the resistance operations and Gestapo's spy methods, and in this the film brings to mind the best movie I have seen of the subject, 13 Rue Madeleine. Might it have been influenced by Bon voyage? The humoristic details include the meaning of smoking British or French cigarettes.

A fair print.

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