AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Impostor
Alternate Title: Passport to Dakar
Director: Julien Duvivier (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Feb 1944
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Washington, D.C.: 27 Jan 1944
Production Date:   23 Aug--mid-Nov 1943
Duration (in mins):   93-94
Duration (in feet):   8,508
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Jean Gabin (Clement [also known as Maurice LaFarge])  
    Richard Whorf (Lieutenant Vareene)  
    Allyn Joslyn (Bouteau)  
    Ellen Drew (Yvonne)  
    Peter Van Eyck (Hafner)  
    Ralph Morgan (Colonel De Bolvin)  
    Eddie Quillan (Cochery)  
    John Qualen (Monge)  
    Dennis Moore ([Maurice] LaFarge)  
    Milburn Stone (Clauzel)  
    John Philliber (Mortemart)  
    Charles McGraw (Menessier)  
    Otho Gaines (Matowa)  
    John Forrest (Free French corporal)  
    Fritz Leiber (Priest)  
    Ian Wolfe (Sergeant clerk)  
    William Davidson (Adjutant)  
    Frank Wilcox (Prosecutor)  
    Warren Ashe (Officer)  
    Peter Cookson (Soldier)  
    Leigh Whipper (Toba)  
    Ernest Whitman (Ekoua)  
    Grandon Rhodes (Captain)  
    George Irving (Prosecutor)  
    Jackie Lou Harding (Nurse)  
    Harry Woods (Guard)  
    Paul Phillips (Soldier)  
    Don Dillaway (Soldier)  
    John Harmon (Soldier)  
    George Lynn (Soldier)  
    George Lewis (Soldier)  
    Clarence Straight (Soldier)  
    Anthony Warde (Soldier)  
    Lester Dorr (Soldier)  
    Jack Gardner (Soldier)  
    Carlyle Blackwell (Soldier)  
    Robert Appel (Soldier)  
    Phil Warren (Soldier)  
    Alain Bernheim (Soldier)  
    Norman Rainey (Elderly man)  
    George Cory (French soldier)  
    John Whitney (French soldier)  
    Eddie Coke (French soldier)  
    Mel Schubert (French soldier)  
    John Meredith (French soldier)  
    Martin Ashe (Sailor)  
    Harry Cording (Freighter captain)  
    Franklin Parker (Cashier)  
    Earle Dewey (Major, medical)  
    Emmett Vogan (Officer)  
    Guy Kingsford (Officer)  
    James Dodd (Young officer)  
    Leslie Vincent (Lieutenant)  
    Barry Bernard (English soldier)  
    Rex Lease (Voice)  
    George Eldredge (Voice)  
    Cyril Delevanti (Bartender)  
    Don McGill (Corporal)  
    Arthur Stenning (Voice of Petain)  
    William Hudson (Pilot)  
    Paul Zaremba (Orderly)  
    Charles Sherlock (Major)  

Summary: Clement, an unrepentant murderer, narrowly escapes the guillotine when a German bombing raid levels the prison in Tours, France. As the Nazis march on Paris, Clement joins some soldiers leaving the French capital to regroup in the south, and soon after, a German plane bombs their truck, killing most of the men. Clement steals the uniform and papers of Sergeant Maurice LaFarge, then assumes the dead soldier's identity. Along with the remains of the defeated French army, Clement arrives in the seacoast town of St. Jean De Luz, where he boards a freighter bound for Dakar, along with soldiers Bouteau, Hafner, Cochery and Monge. Learning that DeGalle is organizing a new army, the soldiers, led by Lieutenant Vareene, asks the captain to re-route the ship. The freighter then lands at Pointe Noire, in French Equatorial Africa, where the soldiers enlist in the Free French Army. Clement continually searches for ways to escape his new unit, but is soon promoted to adjutant by Vareene. The soldiers then head up the Congo on a steamship to Bangui, where they join a troop convoy and travel into the jungles of North Africa. Because of Hafner's expertise, the unit is ordered to set up a radio outpost, rather than join the troops fighting farther north in Libya. With no contact with the outside world other than radio reports and an occasional air shipment, the soldiers soon begin to get on each other's nerves. Vareene contracts jungle fever, and in a fit of madness, accidentally shoots Monge. To raise the spirits of the recovering Monge, the soldiers stage a Christmas celebration, during which they also express their gratitude to Clement for his leadership during Vareene's illness. After four months, the unit, except for the wounded Monge, is ordered to Brazzaville, and Clement is promoted to 2nd lieutenant. Along the way, they are attacked by a German patrol and assumed dead, but only Hafner is killed. While the three enlisted men return to their jungle outpost, a wounded Vareene is taken to the military hospital, where he meets Clauzel, a good friend of the real LaFarge. Clement, in the meantime, is decorated for his heroism and promoted to 1st lieutenant. Later, Yvonne, LaFarge's fiancée, arrives at the jungle outpost to visit her beloved, only to find Clement. The fugitive confesses all to her, but, after learning about Clement's bravery from his comrades, she decides to keep his secret. A celebration is then held at Fort Lamy to commemorate the first anniversary of Free French Army, honoring heroes like Clement. Clauzel is there as well, and recognizes the fugitive. He tells Vareene all, but the lieutenant refuses to do anything until Clement finds him and insists on confessing. During his courtmartial, Clement refuses to reveal his true identity, and is defended by Vareene, who points out his feats of heroism and rebirth of spirit. Clement is then stripped of his rank, demoted to private and sent to the Libyan front. There, Clement distinguishes himself one final time by sacrificing himself to destroy a machine-gun nest. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Director: Julien Duvivier (Dir)
  Don Brodie (Dial dir)
  Joseph A. McDonough (Asst dir)
Producer: Julien Duvivier (Prod)
Writer: Julien Duvivier (Orig scr)
  Stephen Longstreet (Dial adpt from the French by)
  Marc Connelly (Addl dial)
  Lynn Starling (Addl dial)
Photography: Paul Ivano (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: John B. Goodman (Art dir)
  Eugene Lourie (Art dir)
Film Editor: Paul Landres (Film ed)
Set Decoration: R. A. Gausman (Set dec)
  E. R. Robinson (Set dec)
Costumes: Vera West (Gowns)
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin (Mus score and dir)
Sound: Bernard B. Brown (Dir of sd)
  John Carter ([Sd] tech)
Special Effects: John P. Fulton (Spec photog)
Production Misc: Jean de la Roche (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Music: "La Marseillaise," music by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle.
Songs: "Silent Night, Holy Night," music by Franz Gruber, lyrics by Joseph Mohr, English lyrics, anonymous.
Composer: Franz Gruber
  Joseph Mohr
  Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., Inc. 7/2/1944 dd/mm/yyyy LP12504

PCA NO: 9824
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
 
Subjects (Major): France. Army
  Fugitives
  Impersonation and imposture
  Military posts
  Moral reformation
  Officers (Military)
  Soldiers
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): Africa
  Bombing, Aerial
  Cafés
  Christmas
  Confession (Law)
  Courts-martial and courts of inquiry
  Deserts
  France--History--German occupation, 1940-1945
  Freighters
  Gunshot wounds
  Heroism
  Hospitals
  Jungle fever
  Priests
  Prison escapes
  Self-sacrifice

Note: The working title of this film was Passport to Dakar . Allyn Joslyn was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production. The viewed print bore the title Strange Confession , which was a television release title. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   12 Feb 1944.   
Daily Variety   4 Feb 44   p. 3, 11
Film Daily   10-Feb-44   
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jul 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Aug 43   p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Nov 43   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jan 44   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Apr 44   p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   12 Feb 44   p. 1754.
New York Times   27 Mar 44   p. 17.
New Yorker   1 Apr 1944.   
Variety   9 Feb 44   p. 12.

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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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