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Monday, August 3, 2015

THE PASSWORD IS COURAGE (1962)

Fact-inspired, yet standard-issue WWII prison-of-war drama has much the same storyline as THE GREAT ESCAPE/’63. But without those pesky, scene-stealing Yanks getting credit for British derring-do or adding an hour’s running time. A bigger difference comes in a rollicking tone that makes this something of a missing link between STALAG 17/’53 and HOGAN’S HEROES/’65. Too bad indie director Andrew Stone’s can’t quite accommodate ‘rollicking.’ Fast changes from suspense to slapstick, and officious German officers hoist on their own petard need smoother clutch work. Here, it’s pleasant, but harmless. Too polite by half, so you never feel a real threat. Somebody needs to let loose with a big, fat raspberry . . . and get shot for it. The most interesting thing in here is barely touched on: the bromantic puppy-dog devotion of Alfred Lynch’s Corporal toward Dirk Bogarde’s heroically conniving Sergeant-Major which plays out as closeted subtext.

DOUBLE-BILL: Bogarde’s role gets split up in THE GREAT ESCAPE between Richard Atttenborough, Steve McQueen & James Coburn.

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