First Comes Courage

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First Comes Courage
First Comes Courage poster.jpg
theatrical poster
Directed by Dorothy Arzner
Charles Vidor (uncredited)
Produced by Harry Joe Brown
Written by George Sklar (adaptation)
Melvin Levy
Lewis Meltzer
Based on Commandos, novel by
Elliott Arnold
Starring Merle Oberon
Brian Aherne
Music by Ernst Toch
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) July 29, 1943 (US)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

First Comes Courage is a 1943 American war film, the final film directed by Dorothy Arzner, one of the few female directors in Hollywood at the time. The film was based on the 1943 novel Commandos by Elliott Arnold, adapted by George Sklar, with a screenplay by Melvin Levy and Lewis Meltzer. It stars Merle Oberon and Brian Aherne.


Nicole Larsen (Merle Oberon) is a member of the Norwegian resistance in a small town, about to be married to the Nazi commandant (Carl Esmond). When his superiors begin to suspect her, the Allies land an assassin to kill him - an assassin who happens to be her former lover, Capt. Allan Lowe (Brian Aherne).



First Comes Courage had the working title of "Attack by Night".[1] The film was originally to have been set in France, but was changed to Norway because of the public's interest at the time in the occupation of that country.[1]

When director Dorothy Arzner had an attack of pleurisy, she was replaced by Charles Vidor.[1] The film would turn out to be Arzner's final film.[2]

Some scenes were filmed on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with military units providing extras for the scenes of the commando attack.[1]



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