AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Edge of Darkness
Alternate Title: Norway in Revolt
Director: Lewis Milestone (Dir)
Release Date:   24 Apr 1943
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 9 Apr 1943
Production Date:   6 Aug--late Nov 1942
Duration (in mins):   118 or 120
Duration (in feet):   10,729
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Cast:   Errol Flynn (Gunnar Brogge)  
    Ann Sheridan (Karen Stensgard)  
    Walter Huston (Dr. Martin Stensgard)  
    Nancy Coleman (Katja)  
    Helmut Dantine (Captain Koenig)  
    Judith Anderson (Gerd Bjarnesen)  
    Ruth Gordon (Ann Stensgard)  
    John Beal (Johann Stensgard)  
    Morris Carnovsky (Sixtus Andresen)  
    Charles Dingle (Kaspar Togersen)  
    Roman Bohnen (Lars Malken)  
    Richard Fraser (Pastor Aalesen)  
    Art Smith (Knut Osterholm)  
    Henry Brandon (Major Ruck)  
    Dorothy Tree (Solveig Brategaard)  
    Tom Fadden (Hammer)  
    Frank Wilcox (Jensen)  
    Francis Pierlot (Mortesen)  
    Monte Blue (Petersen)  
    Helene Thimig (Frida)  
    Tonio Selwart (Paul)  
    Henry Rowland (Helmut)  
    Virginia Christine (Hulda)  
    Torben Meyer (Clerk)  
    Fred Giermann (Soldier)  
    Rolf Lindau (Soldier)  
    Peter Michael (Soldier)  
    Peter Van Eyck (Soldier)  
    Kurt Kreuger (Blonde soldier)  
    William Edmunds (Elderly sailor)  
    Lottie Williams (Mrs. Mortensen)  
    Roland Varno (Lieutenant)  
    Kurt Katch (Captain)  
    Glen Cavender (Fisherman)  
    Michael Mark (Fisherman)  
    Alan Bridge (Whaler)  
    Louis Arco (German lieutenant)  
    William Yetter (German official)  
    Vic Potel    
    Richard Kipling    
    Vera Lewis    

Summary: In October 1942, a Nazi plane spots a Norwegian flag flying over the German-occupied fishing village of Trollness. On investigation, the Nazis discover that the entire Nazi garrison has been killed and the commander, Captain Koenig, is discovered in his office, shot through the head. The streets, which are filled with bodies, are apparently empty. The only living person found is insane and the Nazis quickly execute him. Before the deaths, the villagers quietly resisted their Nazi occupiers: The resistance movement is led by a group of people including Gerd Bjarnesen, the owner of the hotel, whose father was killed by the Nazis; Gunnar Brogge, the head of the fishermen's union; and his fiancĂ©e, Karen Stensgard, the daughter of the town's doctor, Martin. Gunnar is planning to escape to England to join the resistance there, but before he can leave, a wounded man from a nearby village brings news that the English are delivering guns to the Norwegian underground in preparation for a unified revolt against the Nazis. The following day, Karen learns that her brother Johann, a Nazi collaborator, is coming home, and she begs her father to keep him away. Later, there is a meeting in the church to decide if those sympathetic to the resistance movement will join in fighting the Germans. Pastor Aalesen is opposed to the plan, believing that murder is wrong no matter why it is done. Stensgard is also unsure about the planned action, but the villagers vote to accept the guns and attack the Germans. Karen, Gerd and Gunnar take turns waiting for the British to deliver the weapons. After they arrive, Karen warns the other resistance workers that her brother may betray them if they are not careful. While they are hiding the weapons, someone accidentally drops an English flashlight. Koenig's men find it and, suspecting that the village is up to something, Koenig confiscates all the fishing boats, hoping this will prevent the villagers from earning a living and force them to divulge their plans. Johann's uncle, Kaspar Togersen, the owner of a fish canning factory, pressures Johann to betray the plotters, and somewhat reluctantly, Johann questions the simple-minded shopkeeper, only to receive false information. The Nazis increase pressure on the townspeople, who have been asked not to take action until the British can arm the entire Norwegian coast. When Koenig tries to confiscate the home of Sixtus Andresen, the schoolteacher, Andresen resists and is beaten by the soldiers, who also burn his belongings. Although the townspeople are extremely angry, they refrain from attacking, but when Karen is raped by a German soldier, Stensgard is driven to murder. In revenge, Koenig decides to execute all the leaders of the resistance. The Germans force the group to dig their own graves, but before they can carry out the executions, the villagers finally can take no more and march on the square. Even the pastor opens fire from the church. The villagers fight through to the harbor and load the women and children on boats headed for England. They continue to battle the Germans at great cost to themselves. Finally cornered in the last remaining German stronghold, Koenig writes a note and kills himself. Even as the Nazi soldier reports that no one is left alive, another soldier is shot while lowering the Norwegian flag. Karen, Gunnar and the surviving villagers decide to stay to defend their town. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Lewis Milestone (Dir)
  Herschel Daugherty (Dial dir)
  James McMahon (Asst dir)
Producer: Jack L. Warner (Exec prod)
  Henry Blanke (Prod)
Writer: Robert Rossen (Scr)
Photography: Sid Hickox (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Robert M. Haas (Art dir)
Film Editor: David Weisbart (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Julia Heron (Set dec)
Costumes: Orry-Kelly (Gowns)
Music: Leon Raab (Orch arr)
  Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Franz Waxman (Mus)
Sound: Everett A. Brown (Sd)
Special Effects: Don Siegel (Mont)
  James Leicester (Mont)
  Lawrence Butler (Spec eff dir)
  Willard Van Enger (Spec eff)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Frank U. Peter Pohlenz (Tech adv)
  E. Wessel Klausen (Tech adv)
  Gerard Lambert (Tech adv)
  Hans Stesness (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel The Edge of Darkness by William Woods (Philadephia, PA, 1942).
Authors: William Woods

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 24/4/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP11994

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
 
Subjects (Major): Military occupation
  Nazis
  Norway
  World War II--Resistance movements
 
Subjects (Minor): Betrayal
  Brothers and sisters
  English
  Executions
  Fishing villages
  Flags
  Ministers
  Murder
  Rape
  Schoolteachers
  Self-sacrifice
  Soldiers
  Suicide
  World War II--Collaborators

Note: A working title of the film was Norway in Revolt . The NYT review notes that this was one of several films about the Norweigan resistance made around this time. Others include the 1942 film The Commandos Have Landed , and First Comes Courage and Commandos Strike at Dawn , both released in 1943. HR news items add the following information about the production: Warner Bros. paid $30,000 for the rights to William Woods's novel. Army and Navy officials gave permission to film in Del Monte, CA, a restricted military area surrounding the Monterey Presidio. Other scenes were shot in Monterey Bay, CA, at Cannery Row in Monterey, in the Del Monte forest and in coves near Cypress Point. According to a 27 Sep 1942 NYT article, the studio used two piers in Monterey and a fleet of local fishing boats.
       Other HR news items add that a new type of zoom lens was built especially for this film. It employed variable focal lengths which enabled the camera operator to change constantly from long shots to extreme closeups without moving the camera itself. This lens was used to photograph the battle scenes from across high gullies and allowed the distance shots to be easily interspersed with closeups of the action. A press release included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library reports that Hans Stesness, the minister of St. Olav's Church for Norwegian Seamen near the Los Angeles harbor, acted as the technical director of the church scenes in the film and lent a robe to Richard Fraser, who acted the role of the village pastor. The Argentine government refused the film an exhibition permit, claiming that the film would compromise the country's neutrality. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Apr 43   p. 146.
Box Office   27 Mar 1943.   
Daily Variety   23 May 43   p. 3.
Film Daily   23 Mar 43   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jan 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Aug 42   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Oct 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Mar 43   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Mar 43   p. 3, 6
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Sep 43   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   27 Mar 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   31 Oct 42   p. 982.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   27 Mar 43   p. 1225.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   25 Jun 43   p. 1392.
New York Times   27 Sep 1942.   
New York Times   10 Apr 43   p. 12.
Variety   24 Mar 1943.   

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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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