AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Cross of Lorraine
Alternate Title: A Thousand Shall Fall
Director: Tay Garnett (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1944
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 2 Dec 1943
Production Date:   late Apr--14 Jul 1943
Duration (in mins):   89-90
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Jean Pierre Aumont (Paul [Duprey])  
    Gene Kelly (Victor [Labiche])  
    Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Father Sebastian)  
    Richard Whorf (François [Le Mair])  
    Joseph Calleia ([Antonio] Rodriguez)  
    Peter Lorre (Sergeant Berger)  
    Hume Cronyn ([Andre] Duval)  
    Billy Roy (Louis)  
    Tonio Selwart (Major Bruhl)  
    Jack Lambert (Jacques [Boutroux])  
    Wallace Ford (Pierre [Flandeau])  
    Donald Curtis (Marcel [Cadeau])  
    Jack Edwards Jr. (René [Marchand])  
    Richard Ryen (Lieutenant Schmidt)  
    Frederick Gierman (Corporal Daxer)  
    Paul Marion (Andre)  
    Fred Nurney (Nazi guard)  
    Louis Arco (Nazi guard)  
    Frederick Brunn (Traveller)  
    Otto Reichow (Nazi)  
    Hans von Twardowski (German officer in car)  
    Jay Black (German guard in car)  
    Rhea Mitchell (Mother)  
    Hans Hopf (One-legged man)  
    Earle S. Dewey (Mayor)  
    John Merton (Nazi guard in village)  
    Dick Curtis (Nazi guard in village)  
    Walter Bonn (Nazi guard in village)  
    Sid D'Albrook (Victim)  
    Billy Engle (Little man)  
    Margaret Bert (Woman in village)  
    Dorothy Phillips (Woman in village)  
    Leona Duray (Woman in village)  
    Carmen Beretta (Woman in village)  
    Simon Surgess (Woman in village)  
    Barbara Bedford (Woman in village)  
    John Abbott (Baker)  
    Peter Helmers (Captain Kohlrusch)  
    Emma Dunn (Mme. Marchand)  
    Lionel Royce (Major, labor corps)  
    Morris Ankrum (French colonel)  
    Felix Basch (German captain)  
    Sven-Hugo Borg (German guard)  
    Ferdinand Schumann-Heink (German guard)  
    Bob Gilbert (Guard)  
    Robert Stevenson (Guard)  
    William Yetter (Guard/Nazi mechanic)  
    Fred Easler (Nazi mechanic)  
    Philip Van Zandt (Propaganda announcer)  
    Hans Furberg (German non-com)  
    Arno Frey (Elite guard)  
    Harro Meller (S.S. guard, Shultheis)  
    Paul Rubenstein (Armand)  
    Eva Rubenstein (Jeannine)  
    Sandra Henley (Rosa [O`Flynn])  
    William Vaughn (Control officer)  
    George Beban Jr. (French soldier)  
    Warren Burr (French soldier)  
    George Calliga (French soldier)  
    Tony Carson (French soldier)  
    Max Cutler (French soldier)  
    Danny Daniels (French soldier)  
    Paul Delmar (French soldier)  
    Gene Delmont (French soldier)  
    Dan Druff (French soldier)  
    John B. Dunn (French soldier)  
    Dale Easton (French soldier)  
    Dick Ellis (French soldier)  
    Charles Faber (French soldier)  
    Ben Gerien (French soldier)  
    Ray Hilton (French soldier)  
    William W. Hudson Jr. (French soldier)  
    Paul Langton (French soldier)  
    Egon Lind (French soldier)  
    Roger Moore (French soldier)  
    Stuart Nedd (French soldier)  
    Alfred Paix (French soldier)  
    John Phipps (French soldier)  
    Frederick Pressel (French soldier)  
    Philip Sudano (French soldier)  
    Robert Thompson (French soldier)  
    Fred Beckner (French soldier)  
    Louis Traves (French soldier)  
    Harry Wilson (French soldier)  
    Edward Kilroy (French soldier)  
    Henry Allen (French soldier)  

Summary: After the French government capitulates to the invading Nazis, French soldiers are ordered by their commanders to lay down their arms and turn themselves over to the German army. Among the captured men are Paul Duprey, a pragmatic lawyer; Victor Labiche, a fiercely patriotic taxi driver; wine merchant Andre Duval, who is openly sympathetic to the German cause; surgeon François Le Mair; Antonio Rodriguez, a Chilean; barber Jacques Boutroux; farmer Pierre Flandeau; and young René Marchand. Although the men have been assured that the Germans will be releasing them in France, they soon discover that they have been made prisoners of war. At their German camp, officers question the soldiers and quickly designate Duval, who speaks German, as their interpreter. Duval's willingness to help the Germans angers his fellow prisoners, Victor in particular. Later, the sadistic Sergeant Berger tosses a single loaf of bread into the men's barracks, and the starving prisoners dive for it. Although Victor finally claims the bread, he agrees to share it after Paul and Father Sebastian, an imprisoned priest, point out that the Germans want them to fight among themselves. Weeks later, Duval confesses to Paul that he, Berger and German corporal Daxer, who disguises himself in bandages, sometimes sneak illegally across the French border to buy French luxury items for Lieutenant Schmidt. Duval then asks Paul, who also speaks German, to join him, but Paul refuses. One night, the camp lights suddenly go out and the guard tower appears deserted. Suspecting a trap, the men are reluctant to flee, but Pierre volunteers to venture out and, as he is climbing the outer fence, is shot down by the Germans. Over Duval's objections, Father Sebastian says a burial service for Pierre in the camp yard and is shot and killed for violating prison rules, which forbid any religious expression. The next day, Major Bruhl, the camp's commander, orders Victor into his office and suggests that he use his leadership skills to help control his fellow Frenchmen. Victor spurns Bruhl and is sent to solitary confinement. There, a still defiant Victor spits on Berger, who in turn kicks him in the head, leaving a gash. The prisoners then threaten to hang Duval, and in his terror, Duval runs outside. After Rodriguez activates the camp alarm, Duval is shot by the Germans. Realizing that Duval was set up, Bruhl punishes all of the prisoners by ordering that every fourth man in the roll call line be singled out for execution. Ten prisoners are executed, and Paul is made the new interpreter. Although happy to be better fed and clothed, Paul is shocked when he sees Victor, his head wound festering, still in solitary confinement. Fearing that Victor will soon die from infection, Paul insists that he be taken to the infirmary, then tells attending physician Le Mair that he is devising an escape plan. After Bruhl reveals that he is allowing 150 Alsatian prisoners to return home as part of a recruitment scheme for Germany's labor battalions, he assigns Paul the task of tagging the selected men. Paul tags Rodriguez, Jacques, René and Victor, who is still recuperating from his infection, and then convinces Berger that he and Daxer should take him across the border to shop during the next day's roll call. When Victor, whose torturous experience in solitary confinement has drained him of his fight, refuses to go, however, Paul knocks him out, covers him with Daxer's bandages and slips him into the back of an ambulance. He then renders Daxer unconscious with chloroform and leaves the camp with an unsuspecting Berger, just after the other men take off for Alsace. As planned, René, Rodriguez and Jacques escape from their truck into the French countryside, while Paul drives Victor over the border. German security guards soon discover Paul's scheme, however, and pursue the ambulance. Paul throws Berger out of the racing vehicle and, after the ambulance crashes, kills the guards with Berger's gun. He and Victor are then helped by Louis, a young Resistance fighter, who leads them to Cadignan, where René, Rodriguez and Jacques have taken refuge with René's mother. Soon after the Frenchmen are reunited, German troops arrive in the village, searching for men to work in their labor camps. Paul incites the villagers to resist the Germans and is shot. Seeing his wounded friend's courage, Victor suddenly regains his own fighting spirit, and grabs a German's gun and begins firing. René, Rodriguez and Jacques join him, and soon all of the villagers begin attacking the surprised Germans. Although Rodriguez is killed, the Germans are eventually vanquished. The villagers then burn their homes and march away, while Victor, Paul, René, Louis and Jacques head off to join the Resistance. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Tay Garnett (Dir)
  Julian Silberstein (Asst dir)
Producer: Edwin Knopf (Prod)
Writer: Michael Kanin (Scr)
  Ring Lardner Jr. (Scr)
  Alexander Esway (Scr)
  Robert D. Andrews (Scr)
  Lilo Damert (Based upon a story by)
  Robert Aisner (Based upon a story by)
Photography: Sidney Wagner (Dir of photog)
  Karl Freund (Fill-in dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Daniel B. Cathcart (Assoc)
Film Editor: Dan Milner (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Mac Alper (Assoc)
Costumes: Gile Steele (Men's cost)
Music: Bronislau Kaper (Mus score)
  Nathaniel Shilkret (Cond)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Make Up: Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the book A Thousand Shall Fall by Hans Habe (New York, 1921).
Authors: Hans Habe

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 3/11/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12407 Yes

PCA NO: 9483
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
 
Subjects (Major): Courage
  France. Army
  Nazis
  Prison escapes
  Prisoners of war
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): Alsace-Lorraine
  Barbers and barbershops
  Boundaries
  Chileans
  Farmers
  Firing squads
  France
  Germans
  Guards
  Gunshot wounds
  Lawyers
  Merchants
  Physicians
  Priests
  Starvation
  Taxicab drivers
  Torture
  Translators
  World War II--Collaborators

Note: The working title of this film was A Thousand Shall Fall . The onscreen story credit reads: "Based upon a story by Lilo Dament and Robert Aisner and 'A Thousand Shall Fall' by Hans Habe." According to reviews and news items, Habe was a German refugee and former member of French Foreign Legion, whose book A Thousand Shall Fall was based on his own experiences during World War I. The film opens with footage and offscreen narration that introduces the main characters and gives a brief history of Germany's takeover of France. According to HR news items, Philip Dorn tested for a part in the film, but was not cast, and Darryl Hickman was cast in the role of "Louis," but was replaced by Billy Roy. HR news items add Eric Feldary, Joseph Granby, Henry Victor, Hans Furberg, Hans Von Morhart, Ted Wray and Henry Roquemore to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Many reviewers commented on the film's graphic depiction of prison life. The HR review noted that during a preview screening of the picture, "there were many walk-outs following such scenes as the one where blood gushes from Gene Kelly's forehead...or the much gorier slaughter of Peter Lorre." The reviewers also pointed out the topical significance of film's title, as General Charles de Gaulle had recently ordered that the Cross of Lorraine, an emblem identified with Joan of Arc, be added to the French flag. The film opens and closes with shots of the "Cross of Lorraine" flag. According to a Dec 1943 HR news item, de Gaulle wrote a letter to French star Jean Pierre Aumont, praising the film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   13 Nov 1943.   
Daily Variety   10 Nov 43   p. 3.
Film Daily   12 Nov 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jun 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Apr 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Apr 43   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 43   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 May 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   7 May 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   13 May 43   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   18 May 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jun 43   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jul 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Aug 43   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Oct 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Nov 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Dec 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Dec 43   p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald   13 Nov 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   13 Nov 43   p. 1625.
New York Times   3 Dec 43   p. 27.
Variety   10 Nov 43   p. 34.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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