Edge of Darkness (1943)

[9.0]

If you want to watch Errol Flynn fight the Nazis, this is your movie! Edge of Darkness is one of those great old World War II propaganda films, this time told from the perspective of a small Norwegian fishing village that’s been under Nazi control for two years. Flynn heads up a superb ensemble, including Walter Huston, Ruth Gordon, Judith Anderson, and Ann Sheridan, all of whom cautiously form a resistance to fight the German occupation. Huston plays the doctor-pacifist trying to rationally control his neighbors’ outrage, while icy-cool Anderson pushes for violence — all while seeing a German lover on the side. There’s also strife within the Huston/Gordon household, as their son returns home from war a Nazi sympathizer, and another great subplot features a courtesan (Nancy Coleman) trapped in the Nazi stronghold, trying to stay alive while helping the resistance.

And know this: Edge of Darkness opens with the aftermath of full-blown slaughter — the entire village and the Nazi headquarters are a bloodbath. You know from the start that the movie isn’t going to end well, and for many of the characters, it doesn’t. You might call the film a ‘slow burn,’ but you’ll get invested in the array of personalities over the course of the first half, and when the last half hour comes, hold onto your butts. Once Flynn and the resistance are lined up for public execution and the town preacher has more than he can take, the movie turns full-bore against the Nazis, death be damned! For me, this is a stand-up-and-cheer kind of movie. There’s not a sour note in the entire cast, Franz Waxman’s music soars, and there’s a lot of really cool model photography shots, too.

From director Lewis Milestone (the original Oscar-winning All Quiet on the Western Front).

Edge of Darkness

 

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