Reunion in France (1942)
Reunion in France
Drama / Romance / War
Directed by Jules Dassin
Cast: Joan Crawford as Michele de la Becque
John Wayne as Pat Talbot
Philip Dorn as Robert Cortot
Reginald Owen as Schultz
Albert Bassermann as General Hugo Schroeder
John Carradine as Ulrich Windler
Ann Ayars as Juliette J.
Edward Bromberg as Durand
Moroni Olsen as Paul Grebeau
Henry Daniell as Emile Fleuron
Howard Da Silva as Anton Stregel
It’s 1939 and World War II has broken out, although that doesn’t affect the life of wealthy Paris socialite Michele De La Becque, who is frustrated with her boyfriend, Robert Cortot, because he will not leave Paris to go with her to the south of France. Robert insists that he must stay in Paris due to the war. Michele goes shopping and on her holiday alone, dismissing Robert’s attempt to impress upon her the importance of world events at the time. When she returns she is horrified to discover that Paris has been taken by the Nazi’s and her home has been occupied. She immediately goes to see Robert and discovers that in stark contrast to much of Paris he is still living a life of relative luxury. Robert confesses over dinner that some of his friends are high ranking Nazi’s and Michele can hardly contain her revulsion. Even though she doesn’t want to believe that her lover could betray France, her fears are confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt by Martin, a long time friend and concierge of the hotel where Robert is staying, when he informs her of Robert’s complete collaboration with the Nazi party. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Michele flees into the streets of Paris just before her friend Martin is arrested by Ulrich Windler, who leads the Gestapo in Paris. Michele arrives back at her home, and takes up shelter in the exterior servant’s quarters. Robert arrives and tries to talk to her, but she rejects him, abhorring his dealings with the Nazis. As she attempts to go about life in Nazi-occupied Paris, she encounters a young man trying to escape from a Nazi patrol. Michele hides him in her home for the evening and learns that his name is Patrick Talbot, an American pilot flying for Britain’s Royal Air Force. His plane was shot down and now he is behind enemy lines and is trying to escape France. The next morning, Pat offers to leave and thanks Michele for her help, but Michele wants to offer further help. Michele approaches her new boss, the patriotic Montanot, who owns the clothing store that Michele used to frequent as a customer, for assistance in getting Pat money and papers to help him escape. Robert comes to the store and again beseeches Michele to listen to reason, and angrily tells her that her attitude will get her in trouble with the Nazis. As Pat and Michele avoid dangerous encounters with the Nazi soldiers, Michele realizes that she needs more assistance to help Pat. As much as she is loathe to do so, she goes to Robert and asks him to use his connections to help her leave Paris, along with an American student who is her chauffeur. Robert agrees to lend his aid, and tells her she must pretend to be his fiancé to keep her safe. Michele reluctantly agrees, quits her job for Montanot and joins Robert in the hotel. Pat is acting as her chauffeur, and begins to believe that she is doing all of this out of an unspoken love that Michele is developing for him. Not everyone is buying the act and Windler remains unconvinced and suspicious of Michele, and has her followed. A short while later, the new head of the Gestapo, Herr Schultz, is shown a picture of Pat and informs him that this is the downed RAF pilot they have been looking for. The Nazis quickly mobilize to catch Pat and Michele. Meanwhile Robert’s butler delivers Michele the documents that she will need to get Pat and herself out of Paris to safety but warns that they must leave immediately. Before they can leave, Robert arrives with Schultz and tells Michele that he loves her and France more than she will know, before turning her over to Schultz, who puts her in a car guarded by Nazi soldiers. Michele’s heart sinks as she sees Nazi soldiers put Pat into a car similar to the one she is in. During a dramatic chase in which Schultz is shot and wounded, Schultz informs her that his real name is Pinkum, and he is working with Robert, who is the leader of the French Resistance. Finally eluding the Nazi’s, the cars take them to a secret airfield to fly them to England. Safely away, Michele ponders the revelation about Robert. The next morning, Nazi’s arrive at Robert’s house to arrest him for aiding in Michele and Pat’s escape, when Michele suddenly returns. Obviously their warrant is without merit, and the Nazi’s leave Michele and Robert to continue their work to liberate Paris.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount star Alan Ladd was originally sought for Wayne’s role in the film.
The film was originally to be released in February of 1943, but the release date was moved up to December of 1942 due to increased public interest in the war in France.
Later in life, Joan Crawford herself panned the film, stating, "Oh God. If there is an afterlife and I am to be punished for my sins, this is one of the pictures they'll make me see over and over again. John Wayne and I both went down for the count, not just because of a silly script but because we were so mismatched. Get John out of the saddle and you've got trouble."
John Wayne’s close friend John Ford went into the military before WWII, and pressured Wayne to do the same, which he resisted. It was always a point of contention between the two that Wayne didn’t enlist.
Actors: John Carradine, Joan Crawford, Howard Da Silva, Reginald Owen, John Wayne