Albert RN – 1953 | 88 mins | War, Drama | B&W
Indifferent unimaginative World War II prison escape drama in a similar vein to The Wooden Horse, The Colditz Story and Danger Within. Its director, Lewis Gilbert, had greater success in the war film genre with such successes as Reach for The Sky, Sink the Bismarck and Carve Her Name With Pride. The plot unconvincingly centres on the fact that a dummy can be used as cover for head counts taken by their German captors. The film has plenty of charm, a degree of tension and an array of diverse if dreadfully stereotypical characters. Anthony Steel is somewhat wooden and expressionless in the lead role, whilst Jack Warner is unable to contribute a great deal in a protective support role. Anton Diffring stands out among the support cast as a wholly evil Nazi.
In Marlag �0�, a prisoner-of-war camp for Naval officers in North-West Germany, it�s 1944 and the inmates know of the Allied advance due to the BBC radio broadcasts and regular bombing raids in the vicinity. Despite this the PoW�s are still itching to escape, apart from Lieut. Geoffrey Ainsworth (Anthony Steel), a former artist who is reluctant to make the break himself because he’s fallen in love with Alison, a pen pal he has never met and is worried about actually meeting.
Ainsworth surprises everyone by conceiving a plan to construct a papier-m�ch� mannequin nicknamed Albert that supposedly stands in to cover the absence of escaping prisoners. Despite receiving approval from the escape committee headed by Capt. Maddox (Jack Warner), Ainsworth forgoes the opportunity to be the first to attempt an escape using Albert. The first attempt by Lt. Erickson (Paul Carpenter) is initially a great success with the Germans totally unaware of his escape, but week�s later news arrives that Erickson died at the hands of the Gestapo.
Meanwhile, one of the prisoners with itchy feet, Lt. ‘Texas’ Norton (William Sylvester), strikes a deal with sadistic German second-in-command Capt. Schultz (Anton Diffring) to turn off the boundary lights during the next air-raid in exchange for a chronometer. But Schultz reneges on the deal and shoots Norton dead as he attempts to pass through the perimeter fence.
The prisoners fix the ballot to choose who is next to use Albert so that Ainsworth wins. The escape appears successful but the reluctant Ainsworth is quickly re-captured without even getting clear of the camp, and worse still, the frequent escape attempts result in the honourable Camp Kommandant (Frederick Valk) being replaced by the callous Schultz.
Lewis Gilbert: Director
Jack Asher: Cinematography
Charles Hasse: Film Editing
Philip Martell: Music Department
Malcolm Arnold: Original Music
Daniel M Angel: Producer
Bernard Robinson: Production Design
Vernon Harris: Script
Guy Morgan: Script
Edward Sammis: Script
Anthony Steel: Lt Geoffrey Ainsworth
Jack Warner: Capt Maddox
Robert Beatty: Lt Jim Reed
William Sylvester: Lt \’Texas\’ Norton
Michael Balfour: Lt Henry Adams
Guy Middleton: Capt Barton
Paul Carpenter: Lt Erickson
Moultrie Kelsall: Cmdr Dawson
Eddie Byrne: Cmdr Brennan
Geoffrey Hibbert: Lt Craig
Peter Jones: Lt Browne
Frederick Valk: Camp Kommandant
Anton Diffring: Capt Schultz