Screenplay: George Seaton
Release: Warner Archive
36 Hours is a delightfully forgettable film. I certainly do not mean this in a negative way. I truly enjoyed the time I spent with this incredible film but it is too similar with two of my favorite films that I am struggling to keep my thoughts separate.
It’s 1950. Maj. Jefferson Pike 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.
James Garner does a heroic star turn as increasingly suspicious Pike, and Rod Taylor makes a canny opponent as the duplicitous Doktor in a tense cat-and-mouse, twist-filled wartime thriller. 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 two movies referenced above are The Manchurian Candidate by Frankenheimer and La Grande Illusion by Renoir. The former because of brainwashing and the later because of the escape. The performances from James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, and Rod Taylor are fantastic. Their characters are deep and intriguing to a point when you are rooting for a Nazi (momentarily, until you remember that he is a Nazi).
The gapping flaw in the film is the idea that the Nazi’s would waste so much money to generate a false narrative to con an American officer into giving up the ghost on the Allies attack plans to only undercut the results by following a false flag dropped by a drunkard at a pub.
Drawing those comparisons are a good problem to have. Unfortunately, when I good a very strong hybrid it does not always have me abandoning its predecessors. It may not be fair but it is the way of things. There will always be a place on my shelf for 36 Hours and I highly recommend that you do the same. This is a very good film.
Director: 9 – Cinematography: 7 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 6 – Main performance: 10 – Else performance: 6 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 10 – Script: 9 – Effects: 6 – Design: 7 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 8 – Lasting: 10