Wednesday, January 06, 2016

13 rue Madeleine

1947, US, directed by Henry Hathaway

Another wartime film from Henry Hathaway, who had a very good run for a few years in the late 1940s. The film purports to tell a sort-of true tale of espionage/counter-espionage, though its liberal attitude to the truth kicks in early since many of the locations presented as French are in fact Canadian. Nonetheless, the combination of procedural detail (including spycraft and combat training) allied to the tension of the central mission makes for compelling viewing, while the utterly downbeat ending seems to me characteristic of the postwar turn in Hollywood. Jimmy Cagney plays the lead spy/trainer and while he seemed miscast in the early going -- that rat-a-tat delivery never quite seems to mesh with the academic character he's assigned -- once he's plunged into a mission, the actor is entirely convincing as a seat-of-the-pants guy. There's also an early, uncredited Karl Malden appearance, as well as a decent turn from Richard Conte, another man who had a good run in those years.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States