Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Forgotten '60s movies: 36 Hours

36 HOURS, 1965. 1944. US army officer Major Pike (James Garner) attends a vital meeting in Lisbon days before the D-day landings in Normandy, so he is one of the few people who know the plans for the invasion. The Germans who have been following him know he knows and manage to kidnap him .... the drugged Garner eventually wakes up in a US military hospital in Bavaria, Germany, in the company of Anna, his nurse, and he is astounded to find it is 6 years later in 1950, and that the war is over, Germany lost, and he has had amnesia for years with frequent blackouts when he does not remember anything. He is a resident of the base, with his family photos and objects he had with him on display. He stares at himself in the mirror in astonishment, as he indeed looks older. He checks the newspapers provided and listens to the radio, yes indeed it is 1950 and the war is long over. Anna proves helpful and Rod Taylor as Major Gerber the officer in charge of his case also aids his memory along, asking him to remember what he can of his last movements. Garner can remember that meeting he attended and the invasion details at the various Normandy beaches which he recites in detail, but does not mention the date. His new friends do not rush him but will talk again later .....
Then eating his dinner he spills some salt which aggravates that paper cut which nicked his finger at that meeting in Lisbon when he touched the edge of a map ....... that couldn't be still there after 6 years, could it? Suddenly the scales fall from his eyes - he forces Anna to tell him the real date and realises how he has been duped. Taylor masterminds this operation where people with information are led to believe they are in an Amercan hospital, all carefully faked, with everyone speaking perfect English. Anna is a former concentration camp victim who has been chosen on account of her perfect English and she is so desperate not to be returned there that she will do anything to avoid that - this is another perfect role for Eva Marie Saint, while Garner and  Taylor - those amaible '60s leading men - are ideal here too. Taylor is the good German, dedicated to his case records and research methods, exasperated with his superiors, like the hissable villain Werner Peters who is waiting for Gerber's scheme to fail, so he can use his torture methods to get the information on D-day, which the Germans think will be at Calais.,and they only have 36 hours to get the vital information ...
Pike and Anna go on the run, aided by Gerber, now under arrest - will they get to the border in time, however the villain catches up with them but there is a neat resolution, and Anna  is finally able to cry again - her tears had all been used up at the concentration camp. There is no romance as such between Pike and Anna but its a nice conclusion. This is a fascinating little thriller, in black and white widescreen,  from the Perlberg-Seaton production team (like their 1962 THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR)., scripted and directed by /George Seaton from a Roald Dahl story, score by Dimitri Tompkin, starring three people we like. The film though was tossed away here in the UK as a supporting feature, which is where I previously saw it, back in 1965. Its still quite engrossing and entertaining..

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