Carriage to Vienna – Kočár do Vídně (1966)

Carriage_to_Vienna

A comment by Stillwell on my post War Romances: A Very Long List led me to the Czech movie Carriage  to Vienna  aka Coach to Vienna – Kočár do Vídně. While it’s not exactly what we would call a romance, it’s a love story and I will include it in the list once I get a chance to update things.

The movie can be watched on YouTube as a whole in Czech and while I was a bit startled by Stillwell’s comment that we don’t need the subtitles, after having watched it, I agree. All you need to know is what is written in the intro.

The movie, which is set towards the end of WWII, focusses on one long scene, the trip through a forest in direction of the Austrian border and Vienna. The back story, as mentioned before, is written as an intro. Krista’s husband has been killed by Germans as he was suspected to have stolen something. She buries him and when she’s finished two young soldiers who know nothing of what has happened come to the farm and force her to drive them through the forest. The two soldiers are Austrians, one of them is badly wounded.

Hans is a very lively young man and chats constantly with Krista although she doesn’t seem to understand a word of what he is saying. The way this is filmed, the forest seems endless and as it is winter or just before spring, the trees are naked. A very bleak scenery for sure and the focus is on the three people on this carriage. As Krista is never speaking, we have to deduce her hostility from her actions and her expressions.

There is an axe hidden under the carriage of which the soldiers know nothing. Krista tries to hide it and to get rid of the soldiers’ weapons. Whenever the carriage stops for one reason or the other, she throws away something; a knife, a pistol, a gun…

The drama culminates when she is found out by Hans and he chases her from he carriage into the woods.

Where is the love story in all this, you may wonder, but that’s something you have to find out for yourself.

Not a lot happens in this movie. The protagonists do not understand each other but it’s clear that Hans is a kind man who has been dragged into the war and is on the wrong side because of his nationality. Krista who is full of hatred at the beginning of the film, slowly learns that not all Germans are the same.

This movie wasn’t appreciated in Russia, maybe even forbidden. It’s obvious why. At the end, the Czech woman and the Austrian soldiers, try to flee from the Russians who show no mercy once they get them.

I found this a very captivating, sad and impressive movie and am glad for the recommendation.

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Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946)

Notorious

Sure it is debatable whether or not Hitchcock’s Notorious is a war movie. Let’s say it has a war theme, although a very faint one. I’m fond of Hitchcock movies and since I have a big collection, I thought I’ll re-watch this one.

Alicia Huberman’s (Ingrid Bergman) German father has been convicted for treason which leads to Alicia’s heavy drinking and affairs with various men. FBI agent Devlin (Cary Grant) is sent to recruit her for a delicate job. She’s to fly to Brazil and get access to the house of Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains) who seems to be the head of a group of suspicious Nazis. Since Sebastian has always been in love with Alicia it should be easy for her to approach him.

At first it isn’t clear how far she will have to go. Not  even Devlin knows that his boss wants Alicia to become Sebastian’s mistress. From the first moment when they meet each other, there is something between Devlin and Alicia and if he trusted her he would fall in love with her. Alicia on her side falls in love with Devlin and tries to convince him that she has changed. No more alcohol, no more affairs. For Devlin the assignment to become Sebastian’s mistress is like a test which Alicia fails.

There are two story lines in this movie. One centers on the classic romance theme of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle between two people, the other story line concerns their spying activities.

When Devlin and Alicia discover  something in Sebastian’s house, it puts her in great danger.

I know I’ve seen this movie before but I could hardly remember it. I thought it wasn’t one of my favourite Hitchcock movies but this second time around, I liked it very much. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant are absolutely great in this. I wouldn’t know of many contemporary actresses who can fill a screen with their faces only. It’s captivating to watch all those conflicting emotions on her face. But Cary Grant who tries to fight his attraction and plays in a much more understated way is equally good.

I’m glad I watched it again, I think it’s become one of my favourite Hitchcock movies now. Why it’s on the History Magazine’s 100 Best war movies isn’t entirely clear. Kevin (The War Movie Buff) and I had been discussing this when he reviewed it here. Without his review, I wouldn’t even have considered it as a war movie.  Be it as it may, it’s one of the great black and white movies of the 40s.

Have you seen it? Which are your favourite Hitchcock movies?

They Were Not Divided (1950)

THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED

I’m usually quite lucky in my choices of older British movies. Some I’ve watched in the past make my extended best of list. However, They Were Not Divided will not be on that list. It’s not a bad movie but it felt at times as if the director had intended to make a war movie – based on true events (!) – which is suitable for the whole family. The result is a bit too cute for my taste.

At the core of the movie is the friendship between a British, an American and an Irish soldier. Especially the Englishman Philip Hamilton and the American David Morgan are very close. After having undergone intense training which we are shown in a long boot camp sequence, which reminded me a bit of Full Metal Jacket, the three men are promoted and assigned to serve in the tank company of the Welsh Guards.  Two thirds of the film are taken up by the boot camp and further tank training episodes, occasionally interrupted by leaves which they spend at Philip’s home. During one of those leaves, David meets an English girl and falls in love with her.

There is a lot of emphasis on the relationships in the movie. The marriage between Philip and his wife is explored as well as the relationship between David and his future fiancée.

The last part of the film, could finally be called the real war movie part. The three main characters land at Normandy weeks after D-Day as part of the Welsh Guard’s Armoured Division. They quickly see combat and have to cope with fighting a war in another country, far from their wives and girl friends. The film then picks up speed and we see many of the crucial moments of WWII: Operation Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge. We see how the Welsh Guards join American paratroopers at the Grave bridge before moving to Nijmegen during Operation Market Garden. The film ends with the Ardennes Offensive and the Guards’ unknown operations around the east side of the river Meuse. I suppose it isn’t spoiling the movie too much if I mention that not everyone survives.

I think They Were Not Divided isn’t exactly a must see but I’ve seen far worse. It’s an ok movie, it just doesn’t really have anything that stands out with the exception of some quite humorous scenes during the boot camp sequence. It’s safe to say that even the very squeamish can watch this. If you’re looking for a WWII film to watch with the whole family, this could be your choice.

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