Director: Jean Renoir Starring: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Erich von Stroheim, Pierre Fresnay Running time: 114 mins
Subject: Just because ones’ countries happen to be locked in bloody conflict, it’s no excuse for poor manners. The civility shown by First World War German officers, particularly Erich von Stroheim, to their French prisoners never stops feeling touching. Meanwhile, the POWs remain focused on a good old-fashioned escape plan. Before Shawshank, The Great Escape and even A Man Escaped, these guys were digging tunnels. Renoir weaves his characters’ confounding motives into a light class drama stripping back the meaning of war away from the battlefield to the hearts of men.
Like: A Thoroughly Polite Dust Up
Core truth: “French or German…duty is duty.”