Among the terrified refugees jamming the roads out of Paris in 1940 are Kitty de Mornay, a rich American divorced from her French husband, and her companion Emmyline (Emmy) Quayle. A German...
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Among the terrified refugees jamming the roads out of Paris in 1940 are Kitty de Mornay, a rich American divorced from her French husband, and her companion Emmyline (Emmy) Quayle. A German patrol orders their car back to Paris and, en-route, they stop at an inn where they find a wounded RAF flyer, Lieutenant Gray. They hide him in the luggage compartment of their car. While attempting to repair a flat tire, they are accosted by Gestapo Captain Kurt von Webber. He drives them to Emmy's apartment. Later, with the help of Kitty's estranged husband, Andre de Mornay, a member of the French underground movement, Kitty and Emmy smuggle Lt. Gray out of Paris to safety. Since they now have means of getting to unoccupied France they contact a priest who is harboring many RAF fliers. Funeral processions are allowed across the border unchallenged by the German sentries, and Kitty and Emmy stage one in which their RAF men pose as mourners. Von Weber suspects the women, and he plants a spy in ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Paris Underground (aka: Madame Pimpernell) is a solid British entry in the war/intrigue genre produced immediately after cessation of hostilities with Germany in 1945 by aging, but still glamorous, American star Constance Bennett and distributed in the United States by United Artists.
Ms. Bennett, a somewhat flighty American married to a French foreign office official, and her middle-age spinster pal Gracie Fields, while fleeing the city during the fall of Paris in 1940, find themselves by happenstance carrying a downed British aviator in the trunk of their automobile. Turned back to Paris by a German road bock, they have to take the flier back to hiding in Gracie's apartment. One of the best and most suspenseful scenes occurs when the girls have a flat with the pilot in the car's rear, and a Nazi officer stops to assist them! By hook and crook they eventually manage to smuggle the young aviator to Free France. Delighted with their success, they establish and underground railroad that eventually gets hundreds of allied airmen back to their bases. With a combination of American audacity and British pluck, these two brave and resourceful women cause the occupying Germans a big headache.
Sharply directed by Gregory Ratoff and atmospherically photographed by Lee Garmes, Paris Underground is tense, exciting, and believable. Acting by the two female leads is first rate with good support coming from Argentine actor George Rigaud as Ms. Bennett's husband, Kurt Kreuger as a suave but cruel Gestapo captain who would like to be more than friends with the ripely beautiful Ms. Bennett, and Eily Malyon as the grouchy concierge of Ms. Field's hotel. Editing is a little untidy in places, with some scenes taking too long to unfold. However, the story is never draggy, but engaging and exciting from beginning to end. Alexander Tansman's florid but stirring score, which drew an Academey Award nomination, drives the action along at a gallop.
This picture bears some resemblance to glitzier Joan Crawford vehicle Reunion In France (1942). While not up to competing head-up with that big hitter in the entertainment department, the more staid Paris Underground is somehow more believable and is an enjoyable, inspiring little potboiler in its own right for fans of the war/intrigue thriller.
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