What makes these films the best British war films? They are true

Two of the most incredible true stories of WWII, Odette (1950) and I was Monty’s double (1958), are the latest additions to Studio Canal’s Vintage Classics collection

Out now on DVD and Blu-ray, Odette and I was Monty’s double are two war classics, which deservedly get a digital clean from a new 4k, 16-bit scan of the original 35mm negative. From the opening credits to the final reel, these are utterly captivating adventures – and especially since they are true.

Odette Hallowes, played by Anna Neagle in the 1950 film, was recruited into the Special Occupations Executive (SOE) in the spring of 1942 to aid the French Resistance, operating deep behind enemy lines in a spy network infiltrated by the German Abwehr. She suffered torture and internment in a concentration camp and was the first woman to receive the George Cross.

War Classic: Odette Hallowes, was played by Anna Neagle in the film, Odette, released in 1950

Hallowes revisited his experiences for a 1980 television interview with Mavis Nicholson, who appears among the extras on the new record. It reveals a bravery and courage that most of us can only imagine now. The interview looks like this:
“In less than six months, have you been captured?”
“Yes.” Silence.
“And tortured.”
“Yes.” A longer silence.
“Really, really, severely tortured, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” A very long silence. “But it’s really bad when it kills you.” And it didn’t kill me.
“… Where did you find your bravery?” “
” From one minute to the next. I survived that one, so if I can survive the next, maybe I can survive the next after that.

Real courage: Odette Hallowes was the first woman to receive the George Cross

She then describes looking out the window of a high room in what had once been a luxurious house near the Bois de Boulogne in Paris as Nazi agents burned the skin on her back. She still didn’t speak. This decision, she said, was easy. “You had two choices. You say something, or you don’t say it. You know they will continue, and there is a limit to your strength, and therefore you will die … But after I separated from my children, nothing else mattered. I just had to survive for them. After that, nothing could touch me anymore.

Novelist Sebastian Faulks, whose novel Charlotte gray follows the fortunes of a wartime SOE agent like Odette, appears in another additional feature on the disc. He talks about the harsh realities a young woman working as a combat spy would face.

“They would have known their chances of coming back were only 50-50,” he says of women like Odette. “This is really the extraordinary aspect of it. Everything you said, wherever you went, you were watched. You have been observed. And you never know which agency the eyes might belong to.

A Story of Bravery: ME Clifton James appears as both himself and Monty in I Was Monty’s Double (1958)

On Monty’s record, historian Terry Crowdy, author of Deceive Hitler, discusses the true and daring story behind the film. In 1944, British intelligence hired actor ME Clifton James to impersonate General Montgomery on a tour of North Africa to distract the Germans from the real Monty and his plans for D-Day. .

In the film, Clifton James appears as both himself and Monty, playing alongside the great John Mills as Major Harvey. With a top-notch cast that also includes Leslie Phillips, Bryan Forbes, and John Le Mesurier, it’s a gripping tale of those fateful few weeks before the Normandy campaign.

It should be emphasized how perilous the subterfuge was. “These wartime deceptions may sound a bit funny now, but in reality back then they were extremely serious,” Crowdy explains. Clifton James was terrified of being found and endangering the entire operation, including D-Day.

Captivating performance: I Was Monty’s Double, released in 1958, featured a top-notch cast

“[Montgomery and he] were like twins, ”Crowdy says,“ and he had all his manners, but he lacked Monty’s confidence in people, leadership in him. So James was really like, “If people realize I’m not the real him, then we might be in trouble.”

These are films, of course, with the chaos and uncertainty of extraordinary and dangerous situations scripted in what now appear to be inevitable victories. But they weren’t inevitable. There was everything to play and everything to lose. And with the heroism of such characters as ME Clifton James and Odette Hallowes, the Allies have succeeded, delivering a post-war peace and world that still stands, and one in which we can sit and watch these films from one standpoint. heroism almost unthinkable at our leisure. It is worth thinking about it.

Vintage classics: Odette and I Was Monty’s Double have both been digitally restored
The best of british

This article, brought to you by Studio Canal Vintage Classics, is about British war films Odette and I was Monty’s double, remastered to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Digitally restored with brand new additional features, I was Monty’s double includes an interview with historian Terry Crowdy discussing the real events behind this incredible film. Odette features author Sebastian Faulks and a remarkable interview with the real Odette Hallowes.

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