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Film / Operation Daybreak

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Operation Daybreak is a 1975 war film starring Anthony Andrews, Timothy Bottoms, Martin Shaw, and Joss Ackland; it was directed by Lewis Gilbert and shot mostly on location in Prague. It is adapted from the book Seven Men at Daybreak by Alan Burgess.

The film tells the story of Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of SS-General Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.

See also and compare Hangmen Also Die! (1943), Hitler's Madman (1943), Anthropoid (2016) and The Man with the Iron Heart (2017), all about the same historical events.


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This film features examples of:

  • Better to Die than Be Killed: The SOE commandos commit suicide after the German authorities track them down to their hideout in the crypt of a church.
  • Convenient Misfire: An SOE assassin steps out in front of the car carrying Reinhard Heydrich and pulls the trigger on his Sten submachine gun, only for it to jam. This scene was Truth in Television; Heydrich would have survived if his driver had sped off, but instead the driver pursued the gunman who'd thrown down the Sten and fled, leaving Heydrich to be fatally wounded by a bomb thrown by a second SOE agent. Apparently the jam was caused by the weapon being packed in straw, which got into the weapon (not that the Sten gun was particularly reliable anyway).
  • Food as Bribe: A member of La Résistance smuggles an SOE agent past a German roadblock with some fresh fish he's caught. "I'll make it worth your while..." The German soldiers don't know this, of course; they just assume they're turning a blind eye to a curfew violation for a local Czech with whom they're on friendly terms.
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  • Kill It with Water: The German authorities track down the commandos who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich to the crypt of a church. After suffering casualties trying to storm the hideout, the Germans use fire hoses to flood the crypt to force those inside to surrender. The commandos commit suicide instead.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: Averted. Czechoslovakia built 3 Tigers specifically for this movie.

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