Secret Mission

Secret Mission is a 1942 British war film directed by Harold French and starring Hugh Williams, James Mason, Nancy Price, Carla Lehmann and Roland Culver.[3]

Secret Mission
UK DVD cover
Directed byHarold French
Produced byMarcel Hellman
Screenplay byAnatole de Grunwald
Basil Bartlett
Story byTerence Young
StarringHugh Williams
James Mason
Carla Lehmann
Roland Culver
Music byMischa Spoliansky
CinematographyBernard Knowles
Edited byEdward B. Jarvis
Production
company
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 5 October 1942 (1942-10-05) (UK)

1945 (France)
Running time
94 min.[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office1,759,641 admissions (France)[2]

Plot

During the Second World War, two British army officers, Garnett and Gowan, together with Private Clark, who used to live in France and ran a café with his French wife, and Raoul, a member of the Free French forces, are dropped off on the coast of occupied France. Their mission is to collect intelligence on German military strength in the area, prior to an airborne raid. They rendezvous at the chateau used as German headquarters, which is Raoul's ancestral home. His sister Michele still lives there, but is resigned to cooperation with the occupiers, and is too frightened to assist in the men's mission.

As part of the mission, Garnett and Gowan masquerade as champagne salesmen, aided by a personal letter from Ribbentrop. Having thus established their bona fides, they do deals with German officers for supplying their mess. They also extract much information from the unwary Germans. They also discover that a local businessman, M. Fayolle, hated by some of the locals for his open collaboration with the occupying forces, is in fact secretly working with the French resistance and has assisted many Allied servicemen to escape.

The agents manage to gain access to a secret factory, which is so well disguised that it cannot be bombed, and show a light for arriving paratroopers, who land and overrun the factory. However, Raoul is killed.

As the other agents embark by boat to return to England, Michele refuses an offer to leave with them and promises to start working with the Resistance.[4]

Cast

Critical reception

Leonard Maltin described it as a "Stiff-upper-lip WW2 drama" that is "Well paced dramatically," but whose "comical touches seem awkwardly out of place";[5] while the Radio Times noted, "There's a modicum of excitement" in the efforts of the various characters "to glean information about Nazi invasion plans. But the comic subplot involving Wilding and his French wife, and the romance that develops between Williams and Mason's sister (Carla Lehmann), are embarrassingly twee. Credit to director Harold French for keeping the pace brisk, but this is unremarkable fare";[6] and 20/20 Movie Reviews wrote, "the writers of the 1980s British comedy show Allo Allo must have seen Secret Mission at some point because the similarities are just too numerous to be coincidental. The only difference is that Secret Mission is straight while Allo Allo is a broad farce. Probably the only comical aspect of the movie is James Mason’s French accent, but he does at least look suitably embarrassed as he substitutes ‘z’s for ‘th’s."[7]

References

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