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Film / Uncertain Glory

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Uncertain Glory is a 1944 film directed by Raoul Walsh.

The setting is Occupied France. The film opens with Jean Picard (Errol Flynn), a thief and murderer, facing execution. Inspector Bonet of the Surete (Paul Lukas), who caught Picard and brought him to justice, comes to the prison to see if Picard will favor him with any last confessions, but Picard refuses. Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night, Picard is taken out to the prison courtyard to be executed. He's about to go on the block when RAF bombers appear over the city. A bomb lands right next to the prison, and in the smoke and flames, Picard makes his escape!

He makes it all the way to Bordeaux before he is once again tracked down and caught by Bonet. The two men are on their way back to Paris when they are told that their train is delayed because La Résistance has blown up a bridge. Bonet reads a newspaper and is disturbed to find out that the Germans are going to execute 100 Frenchmen from the local village if the saboteur is not discovered. Picard has a bright idea: why doesn't he turn himself in and claim responsibility for the bridge bombing? He is condemned to die anyway, being shot by firing squad is better than being guillotined by French police, and he'll save 100 innocent lives. Bonet, suspecting a trick, grudgingly agrees.


  • Call-Back: At the beginning, right before he's about to be executed, Picard says "It's been a long road," and Bonet spitefully answers "Yes, but it's come to the right ending." At the end, as Picard is about to go into Gestapo HQ, this exchange is repeated, but with Bonet saying the first sentence and Picard the second, and in a wholly different spirit.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Marianne helps Picard elude both the villagers and the cops and get out of town. He is free and has a good shot of making it to Spain. Instead he turns himself in and performs the Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Bonet would have taken Picard to Paris and it would have been no big deal, except that Bonet catches a fever and is bedridden.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: A shot of the Eiffel Tower over the opening credits lets the audience know that the scene of action is Paris. Then a poster on the wall with a swastika lets the audience know the film is set in the present day.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Picard claims responsibility for the bombing, and is executed. And it's really a sacrifice as he had escaped from Bonet and could have gotten away.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Well, not death. But Bonet coughs as he leads Picard away from their little outing by the river. Soon enough, he is laid up in bed with a fever, which greatly complicates things.
  • La Résistance: They blow up a train. Picard and Bonet run into the real saboteur in the train station, and help him escape.
  • Leg Focus: Louise is introduced with a camera shot tightly focused on her smooth calves.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The Garde Mobile, the local militia that is only too willing to work with the Germans to track down saboteurs.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Louise wears a jacket that is completely open except for a single buckle under her breasts that holds the two halves together.
  • The Needs of the Many: The citizens of the village, wholly unaware that Picard actually had planned to turn himself in for the bombing, get the idea to blame him for the bombing in order to save their menfolk. One of the villagers justifies framing an innocent man by saying "What is the life of one good-for-nothing against the lives of a hundred men?"
  • Ominous Fog: The scene is shrouded by fog as Picard is led out to be executed.
  • Spiteful Spit: When Picard gets tired of verbal jousting with Bonet in the prison, he spits at Bonet before he's led off to the courtyard to be beheaded.
  • Stealth Insult: Picard tells Bonet that he will impersonate a thief named Dupont, an old Army buddy, when turning himself in.
    Picard: We looked enough alike to be brothers, except he was a little stupid.
    Bonet: Well, that will not kill the resemblance.
    Picard: [nods absently, then glares at Bonet]