Decision Before Dawn

Synopsis: WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that "Tiger", who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary "Happy", who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front.
Genre: Drama, War
Director(s): Anatole Litvak
Production: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
119 min

Of all the questions

left unanswered by the last war-

and probably any war-

one comes back constantly to my mind-

- Why does a spy risk his life-

for what possible reasons?

If the spy wins, he's ignored.

lfhe loses, he's shot.

But a man stays alive as long as

he's remembered and is killed

only by forgetfulness.

Let the names of men like this

remain unknown...

but let the memories of some of them

serve as keys to the meanings of treason.

On the 8th of December, 1944,

six months after a piece of enemy shrapnel...

cut short my career with the Second Assault

and Signal Company on Omaha Beach...

I was reassigned by headquarters,

Com. "Z", E. T. O...

and ordered to report to a new outfit-

G2, S.S.S., Seventh Army.

That's what it was called.

There'd been no snow

and a lot of Krauts when I left France.

And now the Krauts were backed up against

the Rhine, and the snow was everywhere.

Otherwise, the war hadn't changed much-

crowded in the rear areas...

and lonely as you got nearer

and nearer the front...

with nothing but a map to tell you

where the enemy was supposed to be.

But you soon discovered

if your map was accurate enough.

- Hey, what's that?

- It's a German half-track. That's what it is.

I don't get it. That wasn't here

when I came by this morning.

- Well, let's turn around here

and find out where we are.

- Yes, sir.

- Stop right here.

- Yes, sir.

I'm sorry, sir.

I keep tellin' 'em back at headquarters...

I got no sense of direction,

but they just won't listen to me.

A soldier's not much good if he can't

find his way back to his own outfit.

- It's like not bein' able to find your way home.

- My home? My home's in Boise.

For cryin' out-

We've come 20 miles out of the way.

- Now we'll probably have to fight

our way through a whole Kraut-

Come on. Get outta there!

Give it up, you rats.

Come on! Move it on!

Keep your hands up.

- Over this way. Move.!

- Come on. Get the lead out.

Move over there.

That's close enough. Right there.

You frisk 'em.

I'll keep 'em covered.

Hey, you. I said, keep your hands up.

That's what I meant. Come on!

Stand still.

- Watch those hands, soldier.

- He was hit by shrapnel, sir.

- You're in the Luftwaffe.

What are you doin' around here?

- I'm with a flak group.

- We're attached to an infantry division.

- Yeah? Which one?

I'm sorry, sir, but I can't tell you anything

that isn't in my Soldbuch.

- Want me to refresh his memory, Lieutenant?

- Ah, leave him alone.

Where's your C.P.?

- I don't know. We got lost.

- They're not the only ones.

"Richter, Paul. Unteroffizier."

He's weak, sir.

We haven't eaten for three days.

Not half as weak as he's gonna be

if you don't keep those hands up.

- Here. You look like you

could use a shot yourself.

- No, thank you.

All right. Climb aboard.

All right. Out, soldiers.

- Where'd you pick 'em up, Lieutenant?

- About five miles from here.

Over here, you two.

Hey, I'm supposed to report to a town

called Marmoutier. You know where that is?

Stay on this road till you get to

a town called Saverne.

- Before you get into town,

take the first fork left. You can't miss it.

- Okay. Thanks.

Hey, here's their Soldbuchs.

- Hey, you want the pistol, Lieutenant?

- Yeah. Gimme that.

- Pistol.

- In there, you two.

Come on.

I want to thank you, sir,

for treating us with kindness.

Come on, Kraut-heads. Get movin'.

You're holdin' up the war.

Well, we finally

made it. Strange as it seemed to me then...

- this was the headquarters

to which I was assigned.

Just a moment, sir.

Sister Teresa's coming.

- Bonjour, MonsieurJean.

- How was the hunting this morning?

No good, Sister Beatrice.

There wasn't a chicken on the road.

- This is it, sir. Sorry about getting lost.

- Oh, forget it.

- I just hope this is the right place.

- Through here, sir.

The adjutant's office is right in the courtyard.

I'll get the bags to your room.

Hey, bud, how do I get

to the adjutant?

Around the corner to your left, sir.

Hey, Monique, will you show

the lieutenant the way?

- You wish to see le capitaine?

- Yeah, I guess so.

This way, please.

- The children are from the orphanage here.

- Oh. Of course.

- Here you are, sir.

- Thank you.

- Monsieur Watkins, the officer

wants to see Capitaine Siebert.

- What can I do for you?

- This the headquarters of G2, S.S.S.?

- That's right.

I've got orders

to report here.

Oh. You're the new

communications officer.

Colonel Devlin will sure be glad to see you.

If you'll follow me, please.

Mm! Could I see

your A.G.O. card?


Security regulations.


- Morning, Sister Genevieve.

How are you today?

The sisters certainly take good care of us.

They've adopted us just like their orphans.

Yeah. It's quite a place.

We had a hard time finding one

until Captain Siebert located this.

We don't like to be too close to the army.

Sometimes they don't understand our procedure.

I can see their point.

After five years, they're fixing the place

up again. Our guys are tryin' to help.

- Up here?

- Yes, sir.

- Watkins, sir.

- What is it, Watkins?

- This is our new communications officer.

Here's his orders, sir.

- Lt. Rennick, reporting for duty.

Glad you finally got here. Sit down.

I'll be with you in a minute. Where was I?

- "That the intelligence penetration"-

- Oh, yes.

That the intelligence penetration

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Peter Viertel

Peter Viertel (16 November 1920 – 4 November 2007) was an author and screenwriter. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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