One of the finest British propaganda films of the Second World War, powerful and tense drama The Day Will Dawn features an excellent cast, including Ralph Richardson and a young Deborah Kerr, and a subtle script co-written by playwright Terence Rattigan, who had previously worked with director Harold French on the screen adaptation of his own play French without Tears. The Day Will Dawn also incorporates actual war footage in its dramatic denouement.
Hugh Williams stars as Colin Metcalfe, a daredevil racing journalist who’s sent to Norway at the outbreak of WWII to become a newspaper’s foreign correspondent after being recommended for the post by an old friend, Lockwood (Richardson). While he’s in Scandinavia, the journalist is approached by a local sea skipper, Alstad (Finlay Currie), who offers to show him where German U-boats are operating. Metcalfe accompanies Alstad and his daughter, Kari (Deborah Kerr), to the site, where they’re fired upon by the submarines. They retreat to Alstad’s village but their protest to the local police inspector is a waste of time as he’s a Nazi sympathiser.
The journalist heads for Oslo to file his story but is kidnapped and awakes to find himself on a German ship. A British vessel rescues him, which is on its way to rescue allied forces retreating from France. Among the injured is Metcalfe’s old friend Lockwood, who’s mortally wounded. Once back in Britain, Metcalfe accepts a perilous mission to return to Norway and help allied bombers destroy the U-boat base…
UK / Paul Soskin / 1×98 minutes / 1942 black and white
Writers: Anatole de Grunwald, Patrick Kirwan, Frank Owen, Terence Rattigan / Cinematography: Bernard Knowles / Director: Harold French
Cast: Ralph Richardson, Deborah Kerr, Hugh Williams, Griffith Jones, Francis L Sullivan, Roland Culver, Niall MacGinnis
US title: The Avengers