The Night of the Generals

Synopsis: In 1942 Warsaw, a Polish prostitute is murdered in a sadistic way. Major Grau, an agent from German Intelligence who believes in justice, is in charge of the investigation. An eyewitness saw a German general leaving the building after a scream of the victim. A further investigation shows that three generals do not have any alibi for that night: General Tanz, Maj. Gen. Klus Kahlenberge and General von Seidlitz-Gabler. The three avoid direct contact with Major Grau and become potential suspects. As Major Grau gets close to them, he is promoted and sent to Paris. In 1944 Paris, this quartet is reunited and Major Grau continues his investigation. Meanwhile, a plan for killing Hitler is plotted by his high command; a romance between Ulrike von Seydlitz-Gabler and Lance Cpl. Kurt Hartmann is happening and Insp. Morand is helping Major Grau in his investigation. The story ends in 1965, in Hamburg, with another, similar crime.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director(s): Anatole Litvak
Production: Sony Pictures Entertainment
  1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
148 min

Take cover!

There's some more, over there!

Back up, around the other way.


What's the odd smell

in this house, inspector?

The smell of war,

Major Grau.

Good morning, inspector.


I'm sorry to call you

at such an ungodly hour.

Not very nice, I'm afraid.

The work of an amateur

butcher, I should say.

Why have you called me?

The dead woman's Polish,

isn't she?

This is not a case

for the German authorities.

Her name was Kupiecka.

Maria Kupiecka.


Oh, yes, she was a prostitute

and a good friend to us.

She was also a German agent.

Killed by a Polish patriot?

Providing the Polish patriot

was also a sexual degenerate.

Patriotism has been known

to have its vicious side.

One hundred knife wounds

goes beyond normal patriotic zeal.

One hundred?

That's just my guess, sir.

It would be impossible

to count.

As you can see, the focus

of the murderer's attack

was on the woman's

sexual organs,

using what appears to have been

a large clasp knife...

Thank you, doctor,

there's no need to be vivid.


Find anything?

No, not yet.

Who reported the murder?

A voice on the telephone.

A man. He heard screams

at about 11:

Identify himself?


Who lives in this house?

One of you...

One of you heard a scream

and telephoned the police.

One of you knows something

about the way in which

this woman died.

If that person does not tell us

everything he knows,

we shall assume

that her death was political.

That she was killed by a member

of the Polish underground

and that you are all


In which case,

it will be my sad duty

to turn the whole lot of you

over to the Gestapo.

The man who

telephoned the police

has one minute in which

to make himself known.

I heard the scream.

This one terrible scream.

And then, well, I...

I hid in the lavatory.

Then later,

perhaps 10 minutes later,

I telephoned the police.

That's all.

You did not give

the police your name.

That means that there

was something you didn't

want them to know.

What could that something be?

Well, there's a...

There's this crack in the door

to the lavatory.

And naturally, you put your eye

to the crack and you saw?

I saw a man

coming down the stairs.

Describe him, please.

Well, it... It was dark.

Describe him, please.

I couldn't see all of him.

Just the lower part,

the trousers.

Why are you so frightened

by what you saw?

Because it was a uniform, sir.

Like yours.

Like mine?

A German officer?

The man's a liar.

German officers can commit

murders like anyone else.

Is that all you noticed?

That the trousers were like mine?

Exactly like mine?


Not exactly, sir. No.

There was a...

There was a red stripe

running down the leg.

He's lying.

Are you aware that

only German generals

wear the red stripe?

Yes, sir. That's why I was afraid.

I see.

It's impossible.

Nothing is impossible.

A German general.

Well, well.

I don't think we need to take

this testimony too seriously.

After all, it was dark on the stairs.

Sir, I swear...

I swear, I'm telling the truth.

And I believe you,

until there's evidence

to the contrary.

Why would he tell a dangerous lie?

I want a complete investigation.

But what happens if

the murderer really is a general?

What happens? Well, justice

is blind, my dear inspector.

Justice cannot see

the red stripe or the gold braid,

but justice can sometimes

hear the cry of a murdered woman.

If a general is responsible,

why, we shall have to hang him.

Don't worry, Liesowski,

the responsibility is mine.

Good night.

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Joseph Kessel

Joseph Kessel (10 February 1898 – 23 July 1979) was a French journalist and novelist. He was a member of the Académie française and Grand officer of the Legion of Honour. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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