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.

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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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