The Day Will Dawn (The Avengers) (1942)
Director: Harold French.
Starring: Hugh Williams (Colin Metcalfe), Griffith Jones (Police Inspector Gunter), Deborah Kerr (Kari Alstad), Ralph Richardson (Frank Lockwood), Francis L. Sullivan (Kommandant Ulrich Wettau), Roland Culver (Cmdr. Pittwaters), Finlay Currie (Capt. Alstad), Niall MacGinnis (Olaf), Elizabeth Mann (Gerda), Patricia Medina (Ingrid), Roland Pertwee (Capt. Waverley - Naval Intelligence), Henry Oscar (Newspaper Editor), David Horne (Evans, Foreign Editor), Henry Hewitt (Jack, News Editor).
a foreign correspondent heads to Norway after Hitler's invasion of Poland and his boat is attacked by a German U-boat; he tells the British navy but no one believes him
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Germany invades Poland, September 1, 1939. At anewspaper in London, everyone is abuzz. The editor's assistant announces: "It's really here. The crisis." Reporter Frank Lockwood comes in and is immediately told to go in and see the boss. Another reporter, Colin Metcalfe, has just been told that he is fired. The editor is now in need of lots of correspondents. For instance, they need a reporter in Norway. Frank suggests that they use this Metcalfe fellow. The man is inquisitive and has a knack for finding out things. But they just fired the fellow. Frank says he's been keeping an eye on the fellow and he can vouch for the man.
Frank goes into a pub where the reporters like to hang out and talks with Colin. He tells Colin that the boss is sending him to Norway as a foreign correspondent. Colin senses immediately that it was Frank who picked him to go to Norway. He says Frank has gotten him all his jobs. A man in the pub comes over to Frank and asks him if it's really worth going to war over Danzig, Poland? Frank answers: "If we want to save our skins, we've got to fight."
Eight months later. Hotel Norge, Oslo, Norway. Colin is in a pub drinking with a pretty lady. They go for a night walk. They go into a different tavern. Inside a Norwegian shipping captain is telling some of the men that he has seen German submarines in Norwegian waters. The bartender shushes the captain, but the captains says he will not be quiet.
There are German sailors and British sailors in the tavern. The Brits start singing and so the Germans start singing. The sea captain doesn't like the Germans and he goes over, grabs a sailor by his tie and knocks him down. Now a huge fight starts. Colin sends his date home and starts fighting the Germans. This endears him to the Norwegian captain. He takes Colin out to the ship. When Colin gets on board he trips and falls on the deck. A pretty blonde, named Kari Alstad, daughter of Captain Alstad, laughs at him. Colin says it wasn't funny, but the young woman says from where she is standing, it looked pretty funny. Dad introduces Kari as his "headman" to Colin
Colin's date turns out to be a German spy. She meets with her German counterparts and tells them that none of the British correspondents in Norway suspect anything. She reports that one of the Norwegian captains sighted a U-boat. Colin went aboard the ship and the ship sailed away.
On board ship at night a large German merchant ship, the Altmark, comes close to the Norwegian sail boat.
The sail boat comes under observation from a German U-boat. The U-boat surfaces and the submariners start firing their artillery piece at the sail boat. They knock the sail down. They then submerge the U-boat.
In port Captain Alstad reports the firing on their sail boat by a U-boat. He tells the story to Police Inspector Gunter, who is at a wedding reception. Gunter doesn't really believe the story, since he has heard other reports of U-boats that turn out to be whales.
Police Inspector Gunter wants Metcalfe not to go back to Oslo, but Colin says he will go back. Kari and the captain insist that he at least stay for some dances with Kari. They dance and Kari says that Colin is about as clumsy on the dance floor as he was on board ship. He asks about Gunter and she tells him he's a good dancer, but it's awkward for her because he wants to marry her.
Gunter goes to an oil refinery business run by Germans. It quickly comes to light that Gunter, half German, is working with the Germans. The vice-council tells him: "We are coming to protect Norway from these British war mongers. We are coming as friends not enemies." They discuss Colin and Gunter says the man insisted on going back to Oslo to file a report. So the vice-council sends his man Heinrich to Oslo.
The men say goodbye to Metcalfe. Kari comes out to say goodbye. She also says that they would like it, if he came to visit them again. Metcalfe is being taken back to Oslo by a snow carriage.
Metcalfe returns to his hotel. Some men are reading a newspaper and talking of the Altmark. The ship was a German naval prison ship operating in neutral waters disguised as a merchant ship.
A lot of Germans come into the hotel. Colin asks the desk clerk who are all these people and the desk clerk tells him that they are just some tourists. Metcalfe meets one of his colleagues, Lucky, who tells Colin that the newspaper just fired him again. They couldn't get in touch with him for several days and think he has been off having fun instead of working.
aKari comes to see Colin, who is having an unsuccessful talk with the bosses back home. The news guys figure that Rumania is the next country the Germans will attack. Colin tries to tell them that it's Norway that's the German's next victim. He says that the Germans showed Norway's top government leaders a film that shows what Germany did to Poland. Colin adds that the Germans like to terrify their intended victims first and then attack them. The fellows start getting excited about this, but just then the German spy network disconnects the call to London.
Colin comes racing through the lobby, but he stops to acknowledge Kari. He tells her that he has to dash off. She insists that Colin at least stop awhile so she can tell him something very important. They sit down on a bench outside and she tells him that two German ships came to Bergen again. The ships look like merchant ships, but they don't unload any cargo. Her father believes that the ships are low in the water because they are carrying German soldiers. Colin figures that the Germans will attack tomorrow at dawn.
Kari says she has to go, but first she gives him a cap she has knitted for him. She presses her left check to his right cheek and says she really has to go. A taxi comes and picks up Colin. Colin shouts to the driver: "The British legation!" One of the male German spies hits Colin over the head.
When Colin awakens he is in a locked room on a German ship. He starts banging on the door and the captain comes down. He says Colin was extremely drunk last night when his friends brought him to the ship. The news of the day is that Germany has invaded both Norway and Denmark. The old British government is thrown out and Churchill becomes the new prime minister. Norway falls to the Germans. The ship's captain tell his prisoner that the English are kaput! Just then a British warship starts firing its guns at the German ship.
Six weeks later, somewhere in the English Channel. The British ship that rescued Colin says that now the ship has been ordered to Cherbourg, France. The ship picks up a lot of wounded men. A surprised Colin discovers that Lucky has been wounded and is one of the men on a stretcher. Lucky tells him that the French never blew up the bridges to slow the Germans down.
The battle for the Atlantic starts. Metcalfe is back working at the newspaper. He is put on the story.
The Director of Naval Intelligence of the British gets aerial reconnaissance of the Norway coast tells some of the staff that they have got to find out just exactly where there is a German U-boat base in Norway. They want to get their hands on Colin because he knows the northern Norwegian coast.
Colin is in a tavern. The tavern is rocked by a nearby explosion. A man from intelligence comes in and finds Colin. The fellow knows Colin from his time in Norway. He asks Colin to come with him and Colin agrees. They go to Naval Intelligence. Colin is introduced to Capt. Waverley. The captain tells Colin that the U-boats have been attacking in packs of 12 from various ports. They think one of the bases is in the area (Langefjord) where Colin was part of the time. The captain wants that base found and destroyed.
From a plane Colin is going to be dropped near the suspected base location. Over Norway Colin drops out of a hatch in the floor of the airplane. Some German guards see a parachute coming down. After Colin is on the ground, the guards spot him walking around and open fire on him. He drops to the ground and then scurries into the thick of the woods. He jumps into a stream and hides between two rocks. When the German run pass him, he gets up, but there is a German there with a Lugar pistol in his hand. Colin figures it's all over for him, but the man says he is an Austrian, not a German. He tells Colin to make his way down to a bakery in town. The password phrase is: "I hear you make very good rolls."
After using the password, Colin is brought into the bakery. They give him some coffee. He asks about Captain Alstad and the baker says he is in a German prison. What about Kari Alstad? The baker says she shames the whole community. She is going to marry police inspector Gunter who has made a lot of money working with the Germans. Colin is disturbed by the information.
Colin is on the wrong side of the fjord, so Olaf is going to take him by boat over to the correct side. They arrive safely, but are soon stopped by a German sailor asking them for their papers. While the sailor checks Olaf's papers, Colin slips away. When the sailor finishes with Olaf, he looks for the man that was with him. He starts chasing after Colin. Colin hides and the sailor runs right passed him. Colin then slips into a dance hall where a German-Norwegian friendship dance is being held. There Colin sees both Kari and Gunter dancing together.
The vice-council arrives and tells everyone that they will be examining everyone's papers. Now Kari sees Colin. She starts banging her glass four times on the table. She keeps doing this until other Norwegians start banging their glasses on the tables. The vice-council tells Gunter to get up on the band stand and stop this. He does so and starts asking for the Norwegian's cooperation, which will be for their own good. Several big guffaws are heard, so Gunter tells the band to start playing music again. They start playing a German tune but quickly switch to a loud Norwegian song.
Kari works her way over to the light switches and turns all the lights out. She grabs Colin and tells him to come with her. Colin is reluctant, but has no choice but to go with her. The vice-council has two German soldiers fire into the dark. Screams are heard. Kari gives Colin directions to another place. She says she has to speak with someone. That's what worries Colin. She tells him, he said he had no choice, so get going. Colin goes. Kari speaks with Gunter, but he is called away.
Kari goes to find Colin. When they are inside and alone together, Kari has to work on Colin to get him to believe that she had to promise Gunter to marry him, in order to get her father out of prison. The two quickly reconcile. They embrace each other. And now Colin enlists her help as his headman.
Colin wires Naval Intelligence that the sit they expected as a U-boat base is just that. He also gives them the time when a pack of U-boats will be leaving the port.
Captain Alstad is released from prison and goes home. His daughter welcomes him with tears and a big hug. She takes her father into the back room that is filled with Norwegian resistance fighters. He is especially surprised to see Metcalfe. He asks why Metcalfe has come and the Brit tells him that the U-boat base will be bombed tonight. He has to get over to the base to use a flashlight to let the bombers know where to drop their bombs. The captain says he will take Metcalfe over to the base. One of the resistance men has fake passes for the two men. The men now scurry out of the meeting place. Alone Metcalfe kisses Kari. He turns and goes.
The German officers get their orders for the attack. The captain and Colin get through a German checkpoint. They find a place along the coast from which to signal to the planes. The planes come over them and the two men flash their flashlights. Colin leaves to fire some flares up into the night sky to further help the bombers. While he is away, the Germans kill the captain.
Colin returns, but without the captain. He has to tell Kari that her father is not coming back.
Naval Intelligence receives the message that the target was destroyed.
A notice is put up by the Germans to the People of Langedal. "In view of the shameful disloyalty to the Reich and to the ministers appointed by the Reichskommissar Terboven in rendering assistance to our enemy, by concealing a British spy, and by general co-operation with aggressive acts of the enemy, which have resulted in the death of many Germans, hereby under the order of the Kommandant, Ulrich Wettau, eight hostages are to be placed at the disposal of the Reich without any delay."
At night the Germans start collecting their eight men. One of the men is Olaf. His wife comes to talk to Kari to say that she must tell her where the Englishman is. Kari explains to the wife that she can't give the English man up to the Germans. Gunter comes to visit with Kari. He says that the Englishman has turned himself in and now Kari will be shot as a spy. Gunter says that he can save her yet, but Kari finally tells him that she wants to go turn herself in to save the others.
Now Colin and the eight men will all be shot at dawn. Colin gives a little speech telling the vice-council that it is useless to kill this small group of men because there are millions of more men out there ready to go into action against the Germans. Kari is thrown into the same jail cell as the others. A guard comes to tell them that they have only a half an hour now. Colin blames himself for having gotten Kari thrown into jail to be executed. She tells him that she would have been caught someday anyway. She asks him about his life in London. Kari says she so wanted to see London.
The first four hostages are removed from the room and marched to the place of execution. The men are executed. The British now invade the base. The vice-council starts to flee, but Gunter tells him he won't let him run away like this. So the vice-council shoots Gunter. As he turns to flee, Gunter now shoots the vice-council in the back. Both men die.
Kari hears over a loud speaker that the British navy is here! Olaf is one of those that are saved by the arrival of the British navy. Kari, Colin, Olaf and his wife all sail with the British back to England.
"In a dozen famous ancient states, now prostrate under the Nazi yoke, the masses of the people, all classes and creeds, await the hour of liberation, when they, too, will be able once again to play their part and strike their blows like men. That hour will strike, and its solemn peal will proclaim that the night is past and that the dawn has come." Winston Churchill
Pretty good black-and-white film. A British newspaperman named Colin is there in Norway when the Germans invade the country and occupy it. Colin helps out with the Norwegian Resistance to German rule. In fact, most of the film is devoted to the Norwegian Resistance (as well as the cooperation of certain Norwegians with German rule) . There is also a love story here, primarily between the young Norwegian woman named Kari and Colin. Deborah Kerr (as Kari Alstad) is very pretty and she does a very good acting job.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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