Arch of Triumph (1984)



Director:     .

Starring:     Anthony Hopkins (Ravic), Lesley-Anne Down (Joan), Donald Pleasence (Haake), Frank Finlay (Boris), Richard Pasco (Veber), Joyce Blair (Rolande), Alexander Davion (Alex), Martin Benson (Goldberg), Stephanie Voss (Mrs. Goldberg), Peter Birrel (Wiesenthal), June Barrie (Proprietress), Teddy Kempner (Young Husband), Katharine Levy (Young Wife), Philip Shelley (Porter), Andrea Evans (Nurse Eugenic).

a love story set against the coming of WWII in Paris as a German doctor there falls in love


Spoiler Warning:

Paris 1939.  Cars pass by the Arch of Triumph in Paris, France.  A second taxi pulls up to the Victoria Hotel.  A hotel worker comments:  "Refugees.  Place is full of them."  In the hotel, a Dr. Ravic gets a phone call in his hotel room and he says he will come right away.  On the radio the talk is that Herman Goering is arriving in Rome to have talks with Benito Mussolini. 

Ravic comes in and is told that the patient had one of those back alley abortions.  The operation is a success. 

Ravic was a head surgeon at the Munich Hospital in Germany.  One of the nurses says that she's sure Ravic is here illegally and she doesn't like it.  The anesthesiologist, Dr. Weber, tells her that's none of her business.

Sleeping at night, Ravic has another nightmare of the time when he was tortured by the Gestapo in Germany.

Ravic goes to a bordello.  He knows the madam very well.  He does the medical checkups on the prostitutes.  He tells the madam that he just came over to have a late drink with her.  She tells him that they've had a big jump in customers lately.  She adds that she's never seen more foreigners in Paris before.  The madam then asks Ravic if he thinks there will be another war soon.  She wonders who would be so foolish as to start another war just about 20 years after WWI.  Ravic says he hopes another war won't break out.

On the streets of Paris, Ravic sees Haake, the man that tortured him in Germany.  Ravic follows the man, but loses sight of the him. 

Ravic goes to talk to his friend, a doorman at a fancy nightclub complete with dancing.  His friend, Boris, says Ravic could be mistaken about seeing his torturer, but Ravic doesn't believe he's made a mistake.  Boris says that in the foreign quarter it's like a small town.  If Haake is here, Ravic will certainly see him again.  Ravic certainly hopes so.  He has been waiting for five years for his revenge. 

Walking around the town Ravic sees a woman who seems to be contemplating jumping off one of the city bridges into the river.  He comes over and tells her not to jump in because, this time of the year, the water is very cold.  She walks away from him, but stumbles in the dark.  Ravic walks over to her again and this time she asks him for a cigarette.  He talks to her and convinces her to come have a drink with him.  She goes with him. 

They have some drinks and then the lady says that Ravic doesn't have to comfort her.  That makes Ravic mad, and he throws some money on the table and leaves the bar.  The woman gets up after a while and goes after him.  He asks her doesn't she have someone in Paris she can stay with?  She says no.  Now she starts to walk away from him  He tells her to stop and then tells her to come with him. 

Ravic takes the woman to his hotel room.  She sleeps on the sofa and Ravic sleeps in his bed.  In the morning, she finally tells Ravic that a man in her hotel room just died on her.  She didn't tell anyone about the death and now she's afraid to go back to the hotel.  And she asks Ravic what should she do?  Ravic goes with her and examines the body.  He thinks the man probably died of pneumonia.  She says that she and the man came here to separate.  Now Ravic tells her to grab her suitcase and they will get out of here before the police get here. 

Ravic takes her to another hotel and gets her a room.  He says goodbye to her and she looks very disappointed that he's leaving. 

Ravic is at a bar with Boris when a man brings him a present from the woman, named Joan.  The gift looks like a small religious relic.  Boris asks Ravic why didn't he keep in touch with the woman?  Ravic asks Boris why should he do that?  They stayed together one night and that was that.  Boris says the statue is not a gift, but a cry for help. 

So the next morning Ravic goes to see Joan.  He learns that Joan is a singer and her mother was English.  Ravic tells her that his friend Boris is a night man at the Scheherazade and he might be able to get Joan a singing job.  Joan really likes that idea. 

They go to Joan's hotel room and she begs him to stay the night with her.  So, he spends the night.  He tells her some memories of his time in WWI. 

The next evening Ravic goes to the Scheherazade and there he sees Haake again.  Ravic imagines the man in a Nazi uniform watching as two Nazis grab him.  They put him in a chair and tie him down there.  Then Haake hits Ravic in the side of the face drawing blood.  Haake asks him why does he help the Jews?  They know Ravic helped Rosenberg, but they want to know who helped Rosenberg after Ravic helped him?  Across from Ravic is a blonde girl named Sybil.  She is also tied to a chair and is watched over by two Nazi guards.  Ravic tells Haake to release her because she knows nothing about this. 

The Nazis now start torturing Sybil and she screams out in pain.  Ravic wakes up from his nightmare shaking like a leaf.  Now he doesn't see Haake in the nightclub.  Ravic runs out of the club and shouts at Haake as the man's taxi cab races away. 

Ravic goes to talk to Boris about Hakke.  Boris tells him that such a revenge requires intensive planning.  He then tells Boris to go back to the Scheherazade and he will find Joan singing there.  She wanted it to be a surprise, but Ravic should go anyway.  Ravic gives in and says he'll go. 

Joan sings as she walks around the stage area.  Ravic is there listening to her.  She stands near his table for a little while. Later she asks him about her singing.  He says she did very well, and she replies that she's glad he's not a newspaper critic.  She also says she has been waiting for him. 

At night, they have sex for the first time.

One day he returns to his hotel room and there is no trace of Joan there.  He becomes very glum. 

At night Ravic has his old bad nightmare again.  Then Joan walks into his hotel room.  She says she loves him.  She tells Ravic that he must love her  -- just love her.  They kiss. 

The couple takes a vacation trip to Normandy, France.  They see a convoy of French soldiers go by them on the highway.  They continue onto the Normandy Coast and have a good time together.  Joan does some gambling in a casino.  She sits with two men who give her a lot of attention.  Ravic decides to take a drive and walks away from Joan.  She gets up and follows him.  She asks him what's he doing and he tells her he's going to take a ride. Without her?  She says she will go with him for the ride.  They go for the ride.  They go down to the coast again and do some more kissing.

Back in Paris, Ravic helps a woman who has been run over by a bunch of school kids rushing down the stairs.  A policeman comes over and tells Ravic, who tries to get away from the policeman, that he must come with him and fill out some paper work at the police station. At the station they figure out that Ravic is a German with no papers to allow him to practice medicine in France.  Ravic will be deported. 

The French drop Ravic and four others off at the German border and tell them to run. 

Joan asks Boris about Ravic, but it's been months since Ravic has been around.  Joan says that this is her last night at the Scherazade.  An actor has gotten her a better job and she is going with him.  She gives her address to Boris to give to Ravic if Boris sees him again.  Boris says he understands.  He may understand, but he doesn't approve. 

Ravic shows up at Boris' place one night.  Boris tells him about Joan and then he says could Ravic have thought that something like this wouldn't happen if he suddenly disappeared?  What could he expect Joan to do? 

Ravic goes back to working at the same French hospital.  Then one day in a restaurant Ravic and Joan see each other.  She comes over and asks Ravic how long has he been in Paris?  Two weeks.  And Ravic didn't try to even see her? Ravic tells her it looks like it's just as well that he didn't enquire, because it looks like she has really done well for herself.  She says she has been working as an actress.  Joan says that Ravic is very cold toward her and then she leaves his table to go back to her own table.  She starts laughing with her new boyfriend.

One night Joan comes into Ravic's hotel room and sits down.  Ravic asks her what's she doing here?  She asks him:  "Why do you have to ask?  I'm here. Isn't that enough?"  They have sex. 

In the morning, Joan says she can't just leave her boyfriend when Ravic just suddenly reappears.  She asks Ravic to give her a week.  Ravic gives her one week. 

Ravic goes to his favorite restaurant and sees Haake there.  Joan comes in and says she left her boyfriend. Ravic tells her that she came at the very worst of times.  He has some private business to attend to that is urgent.  He asks her to leave.  She protests that she left her boyfriend and can't go back to him.  He threatened her that if she really leaves him, he will kill her.  Joan asks Ravic if this is some kind of revenge he has planned to get even with her for what she did to him?  Ravic asks Joan to trust him and just leave for now.  Joan leaves. 

After Joan leaves, Haake comes over to Ravic's table and asks to sit down.  He doesn't seem to recognize Ravic.  He says that Ravic must be German and Ravic says that's correct.  Haake wants to recruit Ravic as a Nazi spy checking up on the refugees who fled Germany under Hitler.  He says he has to go back to Germany, but he will be back in two weeks.  Then he will be in contact with Ravic again.  Ravic is amazed at the whole chance meeting. 

Ravic asks Boris if he thinks that Ravic's obsession with Haake is a sign of Ravic being insane?  Boris says no.  Ravic gets a phone call.  Later he tells Boris that the hotel manager wants Ravic to get his passport to him within the next hour.  The police are cracking down on the refugees and he has to have Ravic's passport.

There is talk of war with Germany.  Ravic comes into his hotel and is told that Boris left him a note saying that the man Ravic wanted to see is at the Osiris restaurant.  Ravic immediately heads for the Osiris.  Ravic gets a car and drives over to the Osiris. He waits for Haake to leave the restaurant and then he picks Haake up as he comes outside.  Ravic says he is taking Haake to an upscale brothel. 

Haake realizes that they have been driving for a half hour now and he demands to be taken back to Paris.  So Ravic stomps on the breaks and Haake hits his head on the dashboard.  Then Ravic hits the man over the head with a pistol.  Ravic opens the passenger door and strikes Haake two more times on the head.  He leaves Haake for dead and walks back to Boris's place.  He tells Boris it's done  --  it's finished.  Ravic says he expected to feel elated and triumphant after he killed Haake, but he actually feels nothing.

At night Ravic is awakened by Joan's boyfriend.  He says that Joan told him she was really leaving him and so he shot her.  Now he wants the doctor to save Joan's life. 

When Ravic gets to Joan, she tells him that she can't move her legs.  He takes her to the hospital and operates on her. She at least pulls through the operation.   

In the morning she asks Ravic to stay with her. She asks if she's going to die and Ravic tells her yes.  She gets him to promise to give her something to kill her when death starts coming near.  He kisses her right hand.  She says she only loved when she was with Ravic.  She starts experiencing great pain.  She asks Ravic to help her now.  He injects her with the promised substance and she dies.  Ravic cries over her death. 

Ravic tells Boris that Joan is dead.  Boris tells him he has to run again, but Ravic says he's tired of running and will use his own name now.  He turns himself in and is told that he will be going to an interment camp.  Ravic gets in the back of a truck with the others being taken to the camp. 


Dr. Ravic from Munich, Germany was tortured by the Gestapo.  He left German and headed for Paris.  He is constantly bothered by memories of his torture.  He meets a woman about to commit suicide and saves her.  She falls in love with him and he then falls in love with her.  And all this is set as WWII approaches ever so near in this year of 1939.  With coming war, the French start cracking down on the refugees, like Ravic, who are illegally in Paris.  Will Ravic be caught and deported back to Germany?  And, if so, will the love between Ravic and Joan survive?  It's a good love story with plenty of worry over what will happen to the two lovers.  And then life throws the couple a real curve ball.  Anthony Hopkins (as Ravic) and Lesley-Anne Down (as Joan) both do very well in their parts.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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