(Review originally written at 21 March 2007)

Of some movies it's just amazing to see how unknown and under-appreciated they are. "36 Hours" should had been a classic movie by now, since it has all the right ingredients for it in it but it yet remains a fairly unknown WW II thriller, despite it's great cast and writers involved.

What makes this movie so great is how incredibly and refreshing original this movie is, though in the end the movie does become a bit too formulaic. The concept of the movie is great thriller material. A couple of days before D-Day, an American major is captured by the Germans during World War II. They attempt to brainwash him into believing that years have past and the war is over and that he is safe in an Allied hospital, so that he will tell about the Allied invasion plans, involving the Normandy invasion, as if they have happened in the past time. It's a real psychological thriller, that due to its story also has a certain unpleasant and unreal science-fiction like atmosphere all over it. The movie has some great and solid thriller moments in it, that makes this movie an unforgettable one and an extremely underrated one in its genre. It's sort of too bad that in the end the movie gets overwritten, by leaving its original concept and turning into a more formulaic WW II thriller genre movie, that tries to look more clever and complicated than it in fact really is. The movie could had definitely- and perhaps also should had been 20 minutes shorter and should had ended earlier. It downgrades the movie but definitely not enough to prevent this movie from being a great and original one.

The movie has a great thriller build up. featuring lots of spy elements in it. It's psychological, while the second halve turns into more physical, which is also one of the reasons why the second halve of the movie does not works as good as the first. It isn't the fastest going movie, like we're accustomed to from '60's movies. Not that it matters though. The movie is good and tense enough to keep your interest for its entire running time, without ever looking at the clock.

It was a good choice that the movie was filmed entirely in atmospheric black & white. It gives the movie a more authentic feeling, as well as a unpleasant and almost alien like feeling. Luckily the movie also features some well placed and refreshing humor, to keep things light and also provide the movie with a certain entertainment-level.

James Garner is good and also believable in his role. He also shares some good screen time with Rod Taylor who also gives a good performance and plays an unpredictable character. Really great in her role was Eva Marie Saint, one year before she and James Garner would team up again for "Grand Prix". She plays a great and strong female character. Really not that many actresses around in the '60's to play a role like that and do it so believable as she did. It definitely makes Eva Marie Saint one of the best actresses of her generation. Let's hope that "Superman Returns" won't be her last role. Werner Peters also plays a good stereotypical like SS-officer, who in a way is the comical note of the movie, though in the end his character turns more and more evil.

A movie most definitely worth seeing, if you get the chance to.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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