Joan of Paris

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Joan of Paris
Joan-of-paris poster.jpg
Directed by Robert Stevenson
James Anderson (assistant)
Produced by David Hempstead
Written by Jacques Théry (story)
Georges Kessel (story)
Charles Bennett
Ellis St. Joseph
Starring Michèle Morgan
Paul Henreid
Thomas Mitchell
Laird Cregar
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Sherman Todd
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • February 20, 1942 (1942-02-20) (U.S.)
  • January 23, 1942 (1942-01-23) (Premiere-New York City)[1]
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $666,000[2]

Joan of Paris is a 1942 war film about five Royal Air Force pilots shot down over Nazi-occupied France during World War II and their attempt to escape to England. It starred Michèle Morgan, Paul Henreid, Thomas Mitchell and Laird Cregar. The film also contains a performance from Alan Ladd soon before he hit superstardom later that year.[3]

Roy Webb was nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score.


In German-occupied Paris, an announcer reports during a blackout that the Second Front has begun, with British forces invading the Continent, and that five Royal Air Force fighters have been shot down. The downed pilots split up and make their way to Paris to try to arrange their escape back to England. On the way, they break into a tavern in search of civilian clothes. When a German soldier shows up for a drink, Squadron Leader Paul Lavallier (Paul Henreid), a member of the Free French, knocks him out and takes his money. In Paris, Paul contacts an old teacher of his, Father Antoine (Thomas Mitchell), who agrees to hide the reunited men in the sewers underneath his cathedral.

"Baby" (Alan Ladd), one of the others, has been shot in the shoulder along the way. When he slumps over in the church, it attracts the attention of a Gestapo agent (Alexander Granach). Paul manages to distract him, allowing Baby to slip away, but then the German starts following Paul. Paul tries to hide in a café, where he is served by Joan (Michèle Morgan), but the agent finds him. In his haste to get away, the airman tears the sleeve of Joan's dress. He then enters the first unlocked room he can find in a nearby building. By chance, it is Joan's. She discovers him hiding in her closet when she goes to change. To allay her fears, he tells her that Father Antoine sent him to give her enough money to buy a new dress. He persuades her to deliver a message to Father Antoine, describing his predicament. As they begin working together, they fall in love.

Later, Paul gets Father Antoine to visit a British spy (John Abbott) who has been caught and is to be executed. The priest is able to overcome the doomed man's suspicions and obtains the name of a contact, schoolteacher Mademoiselle Rosay (May Robson). Because the church is being watched by the persistent Gestapo agent, Father Antoine asks the unsuspected Joan to meet Rosay. However, on the way there, she passes the shop where she bought her new garment. A second Gestapo man (an uncredited Hans Conreid) has traced the bank note she used as payment to the robbed soldier and follows her. She and Mademoiselle Rosay barely escape capture. Rosay arranges for a seaplane to land at night on the Seine River to pick up the men.

Gestapo head Herr Funk (Laird Cregar) plays a cat and mouse game with Joan and Paul. When Paul is picked up for not having any identification papers, Funk apologizes for the inconvenience and releases him so he can lead the Germans to the others.

That night, Paul finally tells Joan his real identity. He promises to marry her when the war is over. However, he is unable to shake the Gestapo agent, so Joan takes the map of the rendezvous point to the others. While they wait for the appointed time, Baby dies of his wound. Meanwhile, Paul finally manages to kill the Gestapo man in a Turkish bath, but too late to reach the rendezvous in time.

Funk then offers Joan a devil's bargain: Paul's life if she leads him to the hiding place of the other men. She agrees. Finding Paul praying in the cathedral, she tells him that the others are still waiting for him. She then leads Funk on a wild goose chase, giving the airmen time to make good their escape. Later, she faces the firing squad bravely.


Michèle Morgan and Paul Henreid


The film made a profit of $105,000, making it RKO's most successful film of the first half of 1942.[4]

The film's score was nominated for an Academy Award.[5]


  1. ^ "Joan of Paris: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p169
  3. ^ OUT OF THE HOLLYWOOD HOPPER By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Oct 1941: X5.
  4. ^ Richard B. Jewell, RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan is Born, University of California 2012 p 252
  5. ^

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