Against the Wind Film Details
Overview: British agents engage in hazardous duty behind German lines.
Review: I got this as one of a number of recent acquisitions and kept putting off watching it because war films have to be very good to hold my interest and I wasn’t all that interested in a British war film that would be starring Simone Signoret and Robert Beatty, expecting some kind of wartime mishmash of a love story accompanied by London blackouts. Boy, was I wrong! I found this an absolutely first-rate film all the way, and I cannot understand some of the negative reviews seen here, unless they are mainly from younger reviewers who want shoot-’em-up action before all else. And several of the reviews don’t even get the story right while still nastily including ‘spoilers’ (one of which does not include a warning). This has to be just about the earliest film to include a crash course in the techniques of wartime infiltration and espionage, and we are given full measure of this by being walked through various training and laboratory facilities and seeing just how ingenious some of these things are and just how conscienceless even potential heroes are expected to be. The laboratory part of it, much involved in explosives of kinds most normal and upstanding people can’t even imagine, is reminiscent of later tours through the latest inventions 007 will be given and made familiar with in order to accomplish his own missions. And Peter Illing makes a marvelous and quite lengthy speech to the potential spies and infiltrators, the main point of which is that they must never let their emotions interfere with their duty – which is, of course, to accomplish the mission and/or avoid being caught. If you have to sacrifice a comrade, even a good friend, you do so, because by doing so you will save many more lives than his or hers. And you WILL take that suicide pill if you are caught; your death is as unimportant as your friend’s as long as the mission is served. That’s a rather heady set of instructions to hear back in 1948, when Great Britain and all the rest of Europe were but three years’ distant from the worst and most humanly costly war in history. And that’s just for a start. In the course of the film, you will see how this training plays out, and in some cases, the least-likely characters, portrayed by the least-likely actors (considering stardom or sympathetic characterizations) are so suddenly gone from the scene or so brutally betrayed by circumstances that it is a considerable shock to the viewer to even realize what is going on before their eyes. I agree with a couple of reviewers that the Signoret-Gordon Jackson romance seems unrealistic, but that is not Jackson’s fault (he is always an excellent actor), just a mistake of casting. Yet there is only two years’ difference in their ages, but Signoret seems so much more mature. But when considering such duos, it is well to remember that Margaret Leighton was six years older than Laurence Harvey, and that Elizabeth Taylor, while four years younger than Eddie Fisher, was about a thousand years older than he was in experience. I mention these mundane comparisons to show that surely such pairings were not necessarily so unusual, maybe especially so in wartime, as to invalidate their inclusion in this particular storyline. Anyway, there was not a performance in the film that I didn’t consider somewhere between excellent and superb, most especially those of Signoret, Illing, Beatty, Warner and Justice (what actor ever had more easy authority than Mr. Justice?). As for the reviewer who has up to this moment scored an amazing 0 – 21 where agreements with his assessment of the film are concerned, it should be noted that Mr. Warner, 54 at the time the film was made, could easily have been a decade younger in his character, and that being overweight (Mr. Warner was always overweight) is not necessarily an impediment to being in overall excellent physical condition. After all, he didn’t even make his first movie until he was 48, stuck around in films for another 35 years, had a hit TV series wherein he played a policeman until he was just past 80 years of age, and died at 85. I think he was in good enough shape to be a soldier during World War Two, don’t you? (Another similarly porky fellow, Ernest Borgnine, spent ten years in the U.S. Navy, lived to be 95, and made five films in the last year of his life!) All in all, I thought this a superb film, and I can’t imagine why I never heard of it before recently picking it up.
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 96 min
Genre: Action, Drama, War
Also known as: Against the Wind,Heróis Anônimos,Héroes anónimos,Les guerriers dans l’ombre,Vasten tuulta,Guerriers dans l’ombre,Under jorden,O prodotis einai anamesa mas,Enantia ston anemo,Împotriva vântului