Tomorrow We Live (1943) British Black and White Movie on French Resistance

Do NOT mix this up with the US movie with the same title. They are not exactly in the same league. The US movie is very clearly a B-Movie and has absolutely no war theme in it. Tomorrow We Live aka At Dawn We Die is a British movie on the French Resistance. It is unlike anything I have seen before. Apparently the film makers got the support of General de Gaulle. Be it as it may, this is forties cinema at its best. Atmospheric, black and white, gaslight feeling… It seems as if every scene was shot in the studio (and likely was) which makes it look at times like a theater play. It does look artificial but it also has a very special charm because of this. Many of the scenes reminded me of the feel of an Edith Piaf song.

Jean Baptiste, a member of the French Resistance is a fugitive on his way to England. He lands in a little occupied French town swarming with Nazis. A young woman, the daughter of the mayor,  helps him to hide and find a place where he can spend the night. There are quite a few female characters who all have an interest in Jean Baptiste. Some want romance, others see their son in him, and others just want to help him and use him for their plans. The mayor and his daughter are seen by many as collaborators. In fact this is just a cover for them. Unknown to anyone they are the leaders of the town’s resistance and organize many acts of sabotage. Like in any Resistance movie you have some vile and treacherous characters who really collaborate.It’s frankly quite entertaining but what I liked most is that it is so dated. Movies like this are not done anymore. They were probably not even done anymore in the fifties. I would say it has an appeal  for any cinephile and not necessarily for someone interested in war movies only. Some of the characters are great, reminiscent of Fellini. Many are funny eccentrics. And we got some mean and ridiculous Germans too. The way they are treated is quite amusing. They are so full of themselves, it’s easy to annoy them; loud yawning and singing during a broadcast of Hitler at the cinema will suffice, to infuriate them.

Tomorrow We Live is special and entertaining, the right thing to watch during the festive season. I can see how this was supported by de Gaulle. It bestowed a little light on those dark and bleak days of the Vichy Regime.

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14 thoughts on “Tomorrow We Live (1943) British Black and White Movie on French Resistance

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    Cool. I have a feeling I will hate it (probably no surprise to you at this point), but I’m game.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    I do like cinema from all decades, I just don’t think older is better necessarily. Black and white versus color is meaningless to me, for instance. Some movies that most critics label as classics are more like antiques, in my opinion.
    This gives me an idea for a post on my blog. I will compare how the critics rated 1940s war movies to what I rate them. Look for it soon.

    • I think there are good ones from all decades but I do like some black and white ones because they are black and white. There is a technicolor version of Casablanca and it really looses all its appeal. They are shot a special way. With the shadows and contrasts. Some actors look much more interesting in black and white.

  3. Dave Navarre says:

    I’d agree that a director/cinematographer who really knew what he was doing in black and white can convey a lot more with shadows and contrasts. When someone colorizes those movies, it ruins all that work. On the other hand, not everyone was brilliant.

    Sounds like an interesting movie, but, unfortunately, Netflix only has the American movie of this name….

    • It is interesting and worth watching. I was surprised when I saw that there had been an US one with the same name that seems not to be good. Maybe you could find it under its second title At Dawn We Die.
      Seeing the colorized version of Casablanca was a truly impressive experience. It had hardly any cinematographic appeal. Flat.

  4. […] on the French resistance, this time on film AND made during the war. Sadly, it’s not available on Netflix. Possibly related posts: […]

  5. […] In Algeria is one of the forgotten classics from the Golden Age of British Cinema. Just like Tomorrow We Live or First of the […]

  6. […] Tomorrow We Live (1943) British Black and White Movie on French … The US movie is very clearly a B-Movie and has absolutely no war theme in it. Tomorrow We Live aka At Dawn We Die is a British movie on the French Resistance. It is unlike anything I have seen before. Apparently the film makers got the . […]

  7. John says:

    I love the movie, too! I started watching film noir because I was tired of the impossible action and graphic violence in modern movies. Older films in general are more believable, more human, because of their simplicity. This is no exception.
    P.S. I am also hooked on the little tune “Jean Baptiste pourquoi” at about the five minute mark and wish I could find the words. As you say, reminiscent of Edith Piaf.

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