Commandos Strike at Dawn

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Commandos Strike at Dawn
Commandos strike at dawn poster.jpg
Directed by John Farrow
Written by C.S. Forester (story)
Irwin Shaw
Starring Paul Muni
Anna Lee
Lillian Gish
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Robert Coote
Narrated by Lester Cowan
Music by Louis Gruenberg
John Leipold (uncredited)
Cinematography William C. Mellor
Edited by Anne Bauchens
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 30, 1942 (1942-12-30)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Commandos Strike at Dawn is a 1942 war film directed by John Farrow and written by Irwin Shaw from a story by C.S. Forester, starring Paul Muni, Anna Lee, Lillian Gish, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Robert Coote.


Erik Toresen (Paul Muni), a widower and peaceful man, is stirred to violence after the Nazis occupy his quiet Norwegian fishing village. German abuses lead Erik to form a Resistance group. He kills the head of the Nazis occupying his village, and then escapes to England, and guides some British Commandos to a raid on a secret airstrip the Germans are building on the Norwegian coast.

The film was shot in the Greater Victoria, Canada, area. Saanich Inlet stands in for Norwegian fjords. The airstrip is what would become the Victoria International Airport. Hall's Boat House (now Goldstream Marina) is where the wharf scenes are shot. Aircraft shown include two Bristol Bolingbrokes and two Westland Lysanders.

During the 1930s, Oak Bay (Victoria, BC) was the original "Hollywood North" when fourteen films were produced in Greater Victoria between 1933 and 1938. An off-season exhibition building on the Willows Fairgrounds was converted to a movie soundstage and movies were produced with stars such as Lillian Gish, Paul Muni, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Edith Fellows, Charles Starrett* and Rin Tin Tin Jr. The Willows Park Studio films include: 1933 The Crimson Paradise, 1935 Secrets of Chinatown, 1936 Fury and the Woman (aka Lucky Corrigan), Lucky Fugitives, Secret Patrol, Stampede, Tugboat Princess, What Price Vengeance, Manhattan Shakedown, Murder is News, Woman Against the World, Death Goes North, Convicted, Special Inspector, Commandos Strike at Dawn.

Although primarily producing "B" movies in the '30s — such as The Crimson Paradise in 1933 (Canada's first "talkie") and Special Inspector and Convicted in 1938 for Columbia Pictures (both featuring starlet Rita Hayworth) — this historic Oak Bay studio also produced Commandos Strike at Dawn in 1942 — an Academy Award nominee.

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