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Wartime propaganda done poorly: Commandos Strike at Dawn

I decided to dig deeper in a set of WW II-themed DVDs I picked up on the cheap.  This is the same set that contains the utterly awful Castle Keep, but I had hopes that Commandos Strike at Dawn might be decent.

Compared to the pointlessly raunchy Castle Keep, it was what one might call "decent," but that is a remarkably low bar.

Commandos Strike At Dawn is a British wartime production, geared to whipping up sentiment for a campaign to liberate Norway.  It didn't happen.

But there were raids, and the British people needed to be reminded that the Norwegians were decent enough fellows, and it was a shame what happened to them and so on.  Hence the movie.

The core problem with the film is that it tries to do too much.  Like many films, it starts in peacetime so that we see how awful the German invasion and occupation are.  There is also a poignant love story about a Norwegian widower, his daughter, and the daughter of the "English Admiral" who wins his heart.  All well in good in terms of human interest, but the problem is that it goes into tons of unnecessary detail, to the point where one wonders if the commandos will ever show up.

When they do, its almost as an afterthought.  They launch a bold raid, give the Nazis what-for, but they also leave when they are done, which doesn't do much for the poor Norwegians.

It's an interesting period piece, particularly from the perspective of war nerds like me.  I was fascinated to see what the British troops were equipped with and also the odd fixation of the action scenes with bayonet drill.  Who knew that this still had fans in 1942?

That being said, I can't recommend it as anything other than a study of British wartime propaganda.  Sometimes wartime films can be quite good, and Sahara is a great example of this.  Yes, it's all about the M3 tank, but it's still fun to watch.  Commandos Strike at Dawn simply isn't as interesting.



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