‘Yet Freedom! Yet thy banner, torn, but flying, Streams like the thunderstorm against the wind,’ wrote Byron and his words were taken as the motto for this Second World War spy thriller by Charles Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob , A Fish Called Wanda), described by Leonard Maltin as a ‘taut and engrossing…dramatic story of resistance fighters.’
Set in London and Belgium, Against the Wind stars Robert Beatty as Priest Father Phillip, who learns the art of sabotage in a London school alongside Michele (Simone Signor et), a Belgian girl wishing to forget a failed love affair; Max Cronk (Jack Warner) and Johnny Duncan (Gordon Jackson), a young explosives expert. After one of their team is captured by the Germans on a previous mission, they are parachuted in to occupied Belgium to destroy a records office and release the captured prisoner.
But Max turns out to be a traitor and is exposed and killed by the ruthless Michele while Johnny proves hopelessly ill-equipped for the task due to his inability to speak French. However, after a series of disasters and misadventures the team proves its worth and pulls off the dangerous task.
The film was based on an idea put forward by Lieutenant Colonel J. Elder Willis, a Special Forces commander, whose escapades during the Second World War were then successfully transposed to the screen under Crichton’s admirable direction. Founded on actual events, the film holds a substantial degree of gritty realism with members of the Belgium Resistance movement recreating on celluloid some of their real life roles of the war a few years earlier.
Simone Signoret went on to win an Oscar for her role in Room At The Top (1960).
UK / Ealing / 96 minutes / 1948
Director: Charles Crichton
Writers: J. Elder Wills, Michael Pertwee, T.E.B. Clarke
Jack Warner as Max Cronk
Robert Beatty as Father Philip Elliot
Simone Signoret as Michèle Denis
Gordon Jackson as Scotty Duncan
Paul Dupuis as Jacques Picquart
James Robertson Justice as Ackerman
André Morell as Abbott
Eugene Deckers as Marcel van Hecke
John Slater as Emile Meyer
Peter Illing as Andrew
Sybille Binder as Florence Malou
Andrew Blackett as Frankie
Arthur Lawrence as Capt. Verreker