Saturday, June 6, 2015

36 Hours (1964)

36 Hours is a WWII drama starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, and Rod Taylor. Released on Feb. 19, 1965, it is also it's 50th anniversary year. Here is the description from the DVD case:
It's 1950. Major Jefferson Pike (Garner) is in an allied military hospital under the care of an American doctor. Pike is an amnesiac, and if he could recount the details of D-Day, his last memory, perhaps it would unlock his mind. Only it's really 1944, and Pike is deep in German territory in a faux hospital built just for him. The Nazis have only 36 Hours to pull off their elaborate ruse and get the D-Day plans out of Pike. But if that doesn't work, they will use any means necessary. 
The DVD menu - at no point in the film does Eva Marie Saint dress or pose like that.

The film is described as a "tense cat-and-mouse, twist-filled wartime thriller."

Eva Marie Saint plays a nurse who is also posing as Garner's wife, one he can't remember. Rod Taylor is the German posing as an American doctor and friend of Pikes'.

Rod Taylor and some cool looking maps of the hospital grounds.

The film opens with a newsreel followed by the opening credits. It then moves into a meeting about the location of the D-Day invasion. Pike (Garner) is sent to Lisbon on a routine trip so as not to arouse suspicion that he knows about the invasion. Once in Lisbon however, Pike is knocked out and taken to a fake hospital in Germany.

Making Pike look older

A two-way mirror... sneaky

The 115 minute film was highly engrossing and put together very well. I can't believe I hadn't seen it before! I discovered it when I was writing about the passing of Rod Taylor. Then, recently, I looked up the trailer and, finding it interesting, got the movie through my library.

Fun Facts:
  • Was remade in 1989 as a TV Movie starring Corbin Bernson in Garner's role. It was titled Breaking Point.
  • The movie was filmed in Lisbon, Portugal and Yosemite National Park. The Wawona Hotel was temporarily made in the "hospital." After filming was completed, they were given 24 hours to remove all traces of the film from the park.
 The real hotel
Travel poster
  • Is thought to be based on the book by Road Dahl, "Beware of the Dog," in which a WWII British Flyer is recovering and put into a hospital. He's about to tell everything he knows until he sees a sign, "Beware of the Dog."

My only complaint was the quality of the DVD. Several shots were extremely blurry, as if they put three strips of film on top of each other and then moved them just a tad so that they no longer lined up. It seemed mainly to be on the outdoor shots. Hopefully this film will be restored soon, as it is one that is an essential to anyone who likes watching films set during WWII.

And while we're on the subject of James Garner I suggest you also watch Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) and his TV show, Maverick (1957-59). Oh, and read his autobiography, The Garner Files :)

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