Undercover (1943 film)

Undercover is a 1943 British war film produced by Ealing Studios, originally titled Chetnik. It was filmed in Wales and released on 27 July 1943. Its subject is a guerrilla movement in German-occupied Yugoslavia, loosely based on Draza Mihailovich's Chetnik resistance movement.

Undercover (1943 film)
Undercover FilmPoster.jpeg
2010 DVD release cover
Directed bySergei Nolbandov
Produced byMichael Balcon
S. C. Balcon
Screenplay byJohn Dighton
Monja Danischewsky
Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
Milosh Sekulich (uncredited)
Story byGeorge Slocombe
Milosh Sekulich (uncredited)
Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
StarringJohn Clements
Mary Morris
Michael Wilding
Stephen Murray
Tom Walls
Stanley Baker
Godfrey Tearle
Music byFrederic Austin
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byEileen Bolan
Production
company
Distributed byUnited Artists (UK)
Columbia Pictures (US)
Release date
  • July 27, 1943 (1943-07-27) (UK)
  • September 14, 1944 (1944-09-14) (US)
Running time
80 min
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The film was produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Sergei Nolbandov. It stars John Clements, Mary Morris, and Stephen Murray, with Michael Wilding and 16-year-old Stanley Baker.

The film was released in the United States in 1944 by Columbia Pictures under the title Underground Guerrillas. It is similar to the 20th Century Fox wartime film Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943), made in the U.S.

BackgroundEdit

The film is based on the Yugoslav resistance movement under the command of General Draza Mihailovich. But politics overtook the situation because Mihailovich and the Royalists were about to be abandoned by the British government - as parts of the Chetnik movement co-operated with the Nazis - in favour of the Communist and Stalinist leader Josip Broz Tito. Speaking in Parliament on 22 February 1944, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, said: "General Mihailovic, I much regret to say, drifted gradually into a position where his commanders made accommodations with Italian and German troops…" The screenplay, by John Dighton and Monja Danischewsky, was accordingly amended, and the film was re-edited. It ended up as a black and white war film, 80 minutes in length.

PlotEdit

 
Two-page advert for the film in 17 July 1943 issue of Kinematograph Weekly, made by famous illustrator Eric Fraser.

The film focuses on the fictional Petrovitch family in Belgrade, Serbia. One brother, Milosh, a Yugoslav military captain (John Clements) forms an anti-Nazi guerilla movement in the mountains of Serbia. His brother, Dr. Stephan Petrovitch (Stephen Murray), poses as a Nazi collaborator to obtain information for the guerrillas while working directly under General von Staengel (Godfrey Tearle), commander of the German occupation force.

Using information obtained by Stephan, Milosh and his guerrillas are able to ambush a German train and free Yugoslav PoWs, while wounding General Staengel in the process. In retaliation, German troops under Colonel von Brock (Robert Harris) execute six schoolchildren. Their teacher, Anna Petrovitch (Mary Morris), Milosh's wife, is taken prisoner and interrogated, but she escapes and joins Milosh in the mountains.

Later, Stephan uses his credentials as a Nazi sympathizer to plant explosives on a German train, timing them to go off in a mountain tunnel. The film's climax is a pitched battle between the Germans and guerrillas. Afterwards, the Serbians retreat into the mountains to continue their campaign of terror and resistance against Axis occupation.

 
1944 Columbia Pictures lobby card for the U.S. release as Underground Guerrillas.

CastEdit

 
1944 U.S. release movie poster, Columbia Pictures.

CrewEdit

  • Director: Sergei Nolbandov
  • Producer: Sir Michael Balcon
  • Associate Producer: S.C. Balcon
  • Script: John Dighton, Monja Danischewsky, Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited), and Milosh Sekulich (uncredited). Based on a story by George Slocombe, Milosh Sekulich (uncredited), and Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
  • Cinematography: Wilkie Cooper
  • Art Direction: Duncan Sutherland
  • Editing: Eileen Boland
  • Supervising Editor: Sidney Cole
  • Special Effects: Roy Kellino
  • Technical Advisors: Milosh Sekulich, W.E. Hart
  • Music: Frederic Austin

SourcesEdit

  • Barr, Charles. Ealing Studios: A Movie Book. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.
  • Barr, Charles. (1974). "Projecting Britain and the British Character: Ealing Studios, Part II." Screen, 15(2), pages 129-163.
  • Dick, Bernard F. The Star-Spangled Screen: The American World War II Film. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. p. 164.
  • Undercover on the citwf database: http://www.citwf.com/film365195.htm

External linksEdit