It Happened Here

The Nazi occupation of Great Britain 1940-45. Owing to defeats on the Eastern Front, garrisons are stripped to “British volunteer SS legions and a small number of German troops.Question of dealing with resistance, evacuation of Salisbury, slaughter of British civilians, “now you’re seeing the real London.”

“There certainly are some extraordinary sights,” no work without joining the Immediate Action Organisation, “you’re not a Jew, Communist, Anarchist, Freemason, you’re definitely in!Mosley is cynosure (“The Leader”), picture up beside the other devil, rat-faced bastards. The future director of A Hard Act to Follow remembers Keaton and the fire truck as the Irish nurse begins her “long and arduous course” of training.

What the Nazis were to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Holland, France and Scandinavia and the rest of it, they are to England (cf. Chabrol’s L’Œil de Vichy). Familiar sights in other contexts, treated to an impressionistic style as nowhere else. In I-A uniform and wearing the lightning badge, one is a sight on the Stoke Newington bus. There is the drama if you like, one wants to do good but they won’t let you, “we don’t accept your decisions, you accept ours.No making the best of a bad job without building The Bridge on the River Kwai (dir. David Lean). Desire for normalcy (cf. Bertolucci’s Il conformista). Arrest of “undesirables” sheltering a partisan (cf. Russell’s Dance of the Seven Veils). Rustication, liquidation of “incurables” (cf. Cartier’s 1984, Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man!). Invasion, slaughter of German prisoners (cf. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead).

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, “there is not a single shot that lacks the texture and the aura of their brainwashing lectures.Variety, “film poses the question: can Nazism only be wiped out by Nazi methods?” Time Out, “a genuinely eccentric curio”. Film4, “it’s not great.TV Guide, “intensely fascinating effort”. Wesley Morris (San Francisco Examiner), “shockingly true to its historic fictional time”. Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle), “meticulously crafted.Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “an interesting inquiry into the nature of Nazi totalitarianism.Hal Erickson (All Movie Guide), “perfect in every detail.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “rather confused and padded”, citing John Simon, “a grain of artistic truth.”