Undercover (1943 film)

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Undercover (1943 film)
Undercover FilmPoster.jpeg
2010 DVD release cover
Directed bySergei Nolbandov
Produced byMichael Balcon
S. C. Balcon
Screenplay byJohn Dighton
Monja Danischewsky
Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
Milosh Sekulich (uncredited)
Story byGeorge Slocombe
Milosh Sekulich (uncredited)
Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
StarringJohn Clements
Mary Morris
Michael Wilding
Stephen Murray
Tom Walls
Stanley Baker
Godfrey Tearle
Music byFrederic Austin
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byEileen Bolan
Production
company
Distributed byUnited Artists (UK)
Columbia Pictures (US)
Release date
  • July 27, 1943 (1943-07-27) (UK)
  • September 14, 1944 (1944-09-14) (US)
Running time
80 min
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Undercover is a 1943 British war film produced by Ealing Studios, originally titled Chetnik. It was filmed in Wales and released on 27 July 1943. Its subject is a guerrilla movement in German-occupied Yugoslavia, loosely based on Draza Mihailovich's Chetnik resistance movement.

The film was produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Sergei Nolbandov. It stars John Clements as Milosh Petrovitch, Mary Morris as his wife Anna Petrovitch and Stephen Murray as his brother Stephan Petrovitch, with Michael Wilding as Constantine and Stanley Baker as Petar.

The film was released in the United States in 1944 by Columbia Pictures under the title Underground Guerrillas. It is similar to the 20th Century Fox wartime film Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943), made in the U.S.

Plot[edit]

Two-page advert for the film in 17 July 1943 issue of Kinematograph Weekly, made by famous illustrator Eric Fraser.

The film is based on the Yugoslav resistance movement under the command of General Draza Mihailovich. But politics overtook the situation because Mihailovich and the Royalists were about to be abandoned by the British government - as parts of the Chetnik movement co-operated with the Nazis - in favour of the Communist and Stalinist leader Josip Broz Tito. Speaking in Parliament on 22 February 1944, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, said: "General Mihailovic, I much regret to say, drifted gradually into a position where his commanders made accommodations with Italian and German troops…"

The screenplay, by John Dighton and Monja Danischewsky, was accordingly amended, and the film was re-edited. It ended up as a black and white war film, 80 minutes in length, that focuses on the Petrovitch family in Belgrade, Serbia. One brother, Captain Milosh Petrovitch, a Yugoslav military officer, played by John Clements, emerges as a guerrilla who forms an anti-Nazi resistance movement in the mountains of Serbia. The other brother, Dr Stephan Petrovitch, played by Stephen Murray, is a physician at the Belgrade Municipal Hospital who acts as a collaborator to obtain information for the guerrillas. The German General von Staengel, played by Godfrey Tearle, does not suspect that Stephan is an undercover agent for the guerrillas.

Using information obtained by Stephan, the guerrillas are able to ambush a German train, free Yugoslav PoWs, wound General Staengel and blow up a strategic railway tunnel in the mountains. In retaliation German troops under Colonel von Brock, played by Robert Harris, execute six schoolchildren. Anna Petrovitch, Milosh's wife, is taken prisoner by German forces and interrogated. She escapes and rejoins Milosh in the mountains.

Stephan manages to plant explosives on a train and sets them to go off in a mountain tunnel. His father Kossan, played by Tom Walls, is captured by German troops and placed on the train to deter an attack. Stephan and Kossan are both killed when the explosives go off and destroy the train and the tunnel. In retaliation von Staengel orders that "one hundred Yugoslavs for every German" will be killed and orders retaliatory strikes against the guerrillas.

The climax is a pitched battle between the Germans and the guerrillas. The Serbians defeat the German troops and retreat into the mountains to continue the guerrilla war against the Axis occupation forces.

1944 Columbia Pictures lobby card for the U.S. release as Underground Guerrillas.

Cast[edit]

1944 U.S. release movie poster, Columbia Pictures.

Crew[edit]

  • Director: Sergei Nolbandov
  • Producer: Sir Michael Balcon
  • Associate Producer: S.C. Balcon
  • Script: John Dighton, Monja Danischewsky, Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited), and Milosh Sekulich (uncredited). Based on a story by George Slocombe, Milosh Sekulich (uncredited), and Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
  • Cinematography: Wilkie Cooper
  • Art Direction: Duncan Sutherland
  • Editing: Eileen Boland
  • Supervising Editor: Sidney Cole
  • Special Effects: Roy Kellino
  • Technical Advisors: Milosh Sekulich, W.E. Hart
  • Music: Frederic Austin

Sources[edit]

  • Barr, Charles. Ealing Studios: A Movie Book. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.
  • Barr, Charles. (1974). "Projecting Britain and the British Character: Ealing Studios, Part II." Screen, 15(2), pages 129-163.
  • Dick, Bernard F. The Star-Spangled Screen: The American World War II Film. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. p. 164.
  • Undercover on the citwf database: http://www.citwf.com/film365195.htm

External links[edit]