A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von ... See full summary »
France, 1942, under German occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is a French Resistance commandant. Denounced by a French collaborator, he is interned in a concentration camp. He manages to escape, and rejoins his network in Marseille, where he has the traitor executed. This movie reveals rigorously and austerely what life was like in the French Resistance: the solitude and fear of its members; their relationships with one another; the constant threat of arrest by the Gestapo; the Resistance command structure and the way its orders were carried out. Head writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville were both veterans of the "Shadow Army".Written by
During the shooting of this film, Lino Ventura and the director Jean-Pierre Melville did not speak to each other. They only communicated through assistants. See more »
In the London WWII sequence, we see double yellow lines on the road. These were only introduced in the UK in 1956 and didn't become common until the 1960s. Same goes for a couple of the street signs, of a style not known before the 1960s. See more »
Claude Ullmann dit 'Le Masque':
Still thinking about the others?
[referring to the resistance fighters, who, like him, were targets in the German shooting gallery]
No, I was thinking of the officer who was sure I'd run too. Like a scared rabbit...
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"L'Armée des ombres" (1969) was shown in the U.S as "Army of Shadows." The film is co-written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.
The time is 1942 and the setting is France. Lino Ventura plays Philippe Gerbier, a high-ranking officer in the French resistance. Gerbier is intelligent, resourceful, and brave. He and his small band of urban fighters are constantly in danger of capture and torture by the Nazis. This isn't a film of rural partisans--it's a film where people meet in cafés and offices. No one knows when Nazi soldiers or Gestapo will sweep down and drag them off. No meeting is safe, and no relationship is safe either--how many people can remain silent under savage tortures that go on for days?
Although Ventura is excellent in the role, the movie is dominated by Simone Signoret as Mathilde--tougher and braver than any of the men, but possessing one terrible weakness.
This movie is different than most films about the French Resistance. Things don't go smoothly, they don't go well, fear is everywhere, and heroism often takes place in a prison cell where no one ever learns of it. It's fascinating, but grim.
"Army of Shadows" is a neglected film by a great director. It's definitely worth seeking out.
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