Odette (1950 with Anna Neagle and Trevor Howard)

UK / 1950

Dir: Herbert Wilcox
Writer: Warren Chetham-Strode, based on the book Odette by Jerrard Tickell

Cast: Anna Neagle, Trevor Howard, Peter Ustinov, Marius Goring, Bernard Lee, Marie Burke, Gilles Queant, Alfred Shieske, Marianne Waller

Odette tells the story of Odette Churchill (Anna Neagle), a brave Frenchwoman living in the UK and married to an Englishman who joins the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. She was flown into occupied France where she fought with the French resistance. Captured and tortured by the Gestapo, she refused to identify her accomplices.

Neagle accompanied Odette and Churchill to France to visit the various places in which their wartime experiences had taken place and, during the making of the film, Neagle wore the clothes that Odette had worn during her imprisonment. In addition to Neagle’s commanding performance in the title role, Wilcox’s strong direction elicited superb supporting portrayals, notably from Trevor Howard as Peter Churchill, Peter Ustinov as a French radio operator and, especially, from Marius Goring as the Intelligence officer who had arrested Churchill and Odette. Max Greene’s icy monochrome cinematography, William C Andrews’ impressive art direction and some fine editing by W. Lewthwaite added to the film’s considerable impact.

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