Resisting Enemy Interrogation DVD Review by Blaine Taylor

Resisting Enemy Interrogation DVD Review by Blaine Taylor
First released in July 1944, this film was produced by then-Hollywood star Ronald Reagan, serving in the USAAF 1st Motion Picture Unit. It was re-released that August in New York for the general public, having started out as a training film for downed American airmen showing how they should behave as POWs.

It is chock full of actors who either were then also stars or went on to become same: Kent Smith, Mel Torme, Craig Stevens, Peter Van Eyck, Don Porter, Lloyd Nolan, and Arthur Kennedy among them.

A generation later, as an American Army soldier in Vietnam, I received the very same wartime instructions depicted here: tell the enemy nothing but "name, rank, and serial number", period. As restated here by narrator Nolan, "Don't talk, be quiet."

His instructions at the end of the film had been violated previously in many ways by downed airmen, thanks to clever German interrogators, both officers and enlisted, male and female. This was well-depicted via a story line where the Germans are able to accurately piece together a (fictitious) American "B-99" medium bomber raid by date and target, shooting down 21 planes and killing 105 air crewmen.

The dramatic acting scenes are interspersed with actual aerial combat footage depicting Martin B-26 Marauder and B-25 Mitchell bombers being destroyed by Luftwaffe Me-109 fighters. This was very well done---as, indeed, was the entire film. I liked it a lot more than I expected to.

A subtle note mentioned neither by IHF nor Wikipedia is the lengths that Reagan went to in presenting the harmless enemy interrogation center: no swastikas nor Nazi flags anywhere to be seen, nor standard, wall-mounted portraits of either Goring or Hitler in view. Instead, a photo of the universally respected Red Baron Manfred von Richthofen is shown, along with one of Germany's cultural greats, Goethe. Nor are any Luftwaffe men in view until almost the end, replaced by German Army uniforms in order to better lull the captives into a feeling of non-threatening settings. Instead of Heil Hitler! salutes, we see crisp hand-to-cap visor martial renderings.

The interplay between the Germans and Americans is well crafted at all levels and scenes, and---beyond noting a typical good cop/bad cop sequence---that's all I will say: I want you to enjoy the dialogue as much as I did! This is a film not to be missed.

Resisting Enemy Interrogation DVD

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