Watch Decision Before Dawn
- 1 hr 59 min
Decision Before Dawn is a gripping war drama film from 1951, directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Richard Basehart, Gary Merrill, and Oskar Werner. Set in the final stages of World War II, the film follows a German-American spy named Bill Harvey (Basehart) who is recruited by the US Army to infiltrate Germany and gather vital intelligence about its weakened defenses. Harvey is sent on a dangerous mission to connect with a network of anti-Nazi Germans in the country, with the aim of providing the American army with vital details that could help them win the war.
Right from the start, the film sets an ominous tone with haunting music and barren landscapes that reflect the gloom of the post-war scenario. The Allies are starting to take control of Germany, but there is still a significant amount of fighting to be done. The story begins with Harvey parachuting into Germany and being taken under the wing of Colonel Devlin (Merrill), who gives him his mission and bids him godspeed. There is a palpable sense of mistrust and danger as Harvey navigates through bombed-out streets and meets his contact, a German known as Berger (Werner). Berger and his team of German patriots are willing to risk their lives to help the Americans, but they are also distrustful of Harvey, who is a presumed Nazi sympathizer.
Decision Before Dawn takes its time to build the tension, highlighting the difficult reality of the situation. Harvey has to live a lie, posing as a Nazi officer while secretly communicating with Devlin through clandestine channels. He gets assigned to a German unit and even participates in the fighting, all while trying to gain critical intelligence about the enemy's defenses. One of the film's strengths is in its portrayal of the nuanced characters, especially Berger, who is both a patriot and a man of principles, willing to risk everything for the sake of his country. The dynamic of trust and mistrust between Harvey and Berger is fascinating, with each man trying to read the other's intentions and motives.
The film's climax is a nail-biting sequence that takes place during the Germans' last stand, as they try to reinforce their defenses against the Allied advance. Harvey must now make a critical decision about where to send the Americans to avoid a trap, but the stakes are high, and there is no room for error. It's a moment of truth that tests Harvey's loyalty and courage, while also bringing to a head the film's central themes of trust, sacrifice, and the futility of war.
One of the things that set this movie apart is the realistic depiction of war, both in terms of its physical brutality and its psychological effects on the characters. The film shows the reality of soldiers fighting in dangerous, unpredictable conditions, where violence can erupt at any moment. There are no grand battles or heroic charges - just ordinary men trying to survive in extraordinary circumstances. The movie is also notable for its attention to detail, with accurate uniforms, weapons, and locations that lend the film an air of authenticity.
Decision Before Dawn is a well-crafted war drama that manages to balance tense action sequences with nuanced characterizations, making it one of the best films of its genre. The performances by Basehart, Merrill, and Werner are excellent, capturing the complexity of their characters and the sense of urgency that drives them. The film's themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the nature of war are timeless, making it a film that is still relevant today.
In conclusion, Decision Before Dawn is a must-watch film for fans of war dramas, and anyone interested in the history of World War II. It portrays the war in a realistic and unflinching manner while also delivering a compelling story with memorable characters. It's a movie that stays with you long after it ends, leaving you with a sense of awe and respect for the men who fought in that terrible conflict.
Decision Before Dawn is a 1951 war movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 59 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.