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Joan S. (slotchick) from CAMBRIDGE, MA Reviewed on 1/31/2010...
The cast was great,
A film of WWII intrigue with a great twist to it.
A Psychological Espionage Thriller
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 08/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Garner is excellent in this WWII thriller about Major Pike, a man who is drugged and kidnapped on a mission in Lisbon, which was a hub of intrigue during the war years. He is taken to an "American hospital" in Germany, where they tell him he has amnesia, and has been hospitalized for years, in hopes of getting information on where and when the Allied invasion will take place. With some hair dye and eye drops that blur his vision, and a newspaper that is dated "May 15, 1950", Maj. Pike is disoriented, and believes the elaborate hoax, but has an uneasy feeling that all is not as it seems.
The people who pretend to be "helping him" are Eva Marie Saint as his nurse, Anna, who has a numbered tattoo from Auschwitz, and will do anything not to be sent back there, and Rod Taylor as Major Gerber, the psychiatrist. Werner Peters is the evil SS Agent Schack, whose only interest is in his own promotion. The main thrust of the plot is how Maj. Pike is to survive, and how he can keep the Nazis in the dark about D-Day. There are a few twists to the story, which for the most part holds water, though there is a slight discrepancy that to me is now obvious, but I have seen this film countless times, and do not think I noticed it until the 3rd viewing.
The taut script is based on Roald Dahl's "Beware of the Dog", and the direction by George Seaton is nicely paced with many tense moments. Dimitri Tiomkin composed the soundtrack, and the black & white cinematography by Philip Lathrop was shot on location in Portugal, Germany and Yosemite National Park. Total running time is 115 minutes. "
Unfortunate transfer or print problems spoil parts of this f
Lars Sandell | Sweden | 05/30/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Please note: The two stars above do not indicate my verdict on the film itself, but rather the odd transfer to DVD provided by the folks at Warner Home Video. For most of the running time this DVD looks just fine, with a good grey scale, fine contrast and a sharp image. Thankfully, white speckles are also quite absent, which is certainly not always the case when it comes to transfers of classic product from Warner. But in almost all of the darker scenes throughout the film, the focus goes way off, especially damaging in the right half of the screen. And when it comes to the final escape sequence with Garner and Saint, this irritating double contour softness continues for half a reel or so, effectively ruining much of the suspense. If this problem is a defect that exists on all surviving materials in the film vaults, then Warner should have had the decency to warn potential consumers with at least a sticker on the cover. But my guess is that this blurry jinx could have been corrected with some proper quality attention before the discs were made and distributed. If Warner have the guts and will, they ought to recall this DVD pronto before its domestic street date on June 5, and make a hopefully new transfer available as soon as possible."
Finally Available as a DVD
Kevin R. Austra | Delaware Valley, USA | 10/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the category of War Films, this one is more of a thriller. James Garner stars as a kidnapped American officer who, while recovering in a military hospital, is led to believe that he is suffering from amnesia. The key to his recovery is to recall the details of the Allied invasion France. The twist is that Nazi's actually have him captive and have set up an elaborate charade to convince Garner that the war has been over for years in hopes of discovering the Normandy invasion plans.
Rod Taylor plays the part of a German doctor masquarading as an American doctor attempting to coax memories from Garner. Taylor's character is very sympathetic to Garner's plight and half heartedly attempts to draw the information from him. Although Taylor's character is that of a German playing the part of an American, it is difficult to see him as anything but an American. This is even more suprising as Taylor was Australian.
Eva Marie Saint plays Garner's attending nurse who is torn between assisting Garner and keeping herself out of a concentration camp.
Werner Peters reprises his oft-played role as a Nazi officer. You have seen him play virtually the same role in THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR, THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, and THE SECRET WAR OF HARRY FRIGG. In 36 HOURS he is bent on rushing the carefully scipted amnesia scenario and cracking Garner in order to discover the D-Day invasion plans. In doing so he shows his true colors as a self serving and glory seeking individual. He explains this to the German doctor when he blatantly admits that any failure will be blamed on the doctor whereas success will lauded on Peters.
Actor John Banner also makes a pre-Hogan's Heroes appearance in this film. Even though Banner wears a home guard uniform and patrols a fence other than that of Stalag 13, Banner is still lovable Sergeant Schultz.
The plot of this movie has been compared to the elaborate schemes hatched in episodes of Mission Impossible. In fact, 36 HOURS was remade as a television movie by Ted Turner as BREAKING POINT in the late 1980s.
There was some location shooting in Portugal and additional second unit exterior filming in Germany. However the bulk of 36 HOURS was filmed in California with exterior shots in nearby Yosemite Park. Take note of the German army uniforms with the oversized insignia and shiny stahlhelm helmets. These uniforms were straight out of the MGM wardrobe. Television series such as COMBAT! also made use of these one-size-fits-all uniforms.
This movie has been difficult to come by even when it was only available in VHS. In fact prior to acquiring the DVD the last time I saw this movie was on late night television 30 years ago. Despite reviews about some DVDs with diminished clarity, my copy was intact and absolutely clear."
WW2 Psychological Thriller!
Seen Them All | SoCal Desert | 03/03/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movies stars James Garner as a WW2 military officer with a knowlwdge of top secret plans. The story unfolds as he awakes in a hospital and is being treated for physical injuries and amnesia. Or is he..??? Just what type of hospital is he in and who is in charge.......the Allies or the Germans...???? Tensions rise as Garner slowly suspects the truth and plays a game of wits with the enemy. Good acting all around. Not an Academy Award winner but not a bomb either. A good addition to a WW2 film library."
Ingenious pre-invasion Nazi scheme
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 10/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Garner stars as Major Jeff Pike, a U.S. Army intelligence officer in possession of critical information concerning the Allied invasion of Europe. In a well conceived plot, courtesy of a story from the imagination of Roald Dahl, Garner is abducted from a meeting in neutral Lisbon.
Garner is transported, heavily sedated, to Germany to partake in an elaborate hoax propagated by loyal and intellectual Nazi psychiatrist, Major Gerber played by Rod Taylor. To glean sensitive details of the attack, Garner is made to believe that six years have elapsed, the war is over and that he's been suffering from amnesia. In a bogus U.S. hospital setting in alleged occupied Germany, Taylor is given 36 hours to extract the information before diabolical SS Colonel Schack played by Werner Peters will use more aggresive interrogation techniques.
The charade is enhanced by Eva Narie Saint playing nurse Anna Hedler who is actually a concentration camp survivor aiding Taylor to maintain her freedom. The wily Garner soon sees through the plot and with the aid of Saint, escapes after muddling up the scheme.
Peters and Taylor, at odds throughout the film eventually have a showdown after the principled Taylor helps Saint and Garner escape. Col. Schack is obsessed with their recapture as the try to cross the border into Switzerland. Garner and Saint are aided by an entrepreneurial German homeguard Sergeant Ernst played by none other than John Banner, better known as Hogan's Heroes unforgetable Sgt. Schultz."