Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on August 1st, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: UK, June 26th, 1941
Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
Writers: Terence Young (original story and screenplay), Rodney Ackland (contributing writer, uncredited), Brian Desmond Hurst (contributing writer, uncredited)
Cast: Anton Walbrook, Sally Gray, Derrick De Marney, Cecil Parker, Percy Parsons, Kenneth Kent, J.H. Roberts.
DVD released: August 9th, 2010
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Fullscreen
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Odeon Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £12.99
November 1940, Stefan Radetzky (Anton Walbrook) a Polish pilot and famous concert pianist, is hospitalized in England from injuries sustained while in combat. In the hopes of curing his amnesia the doctors provide him with a piano and as he begins to play the story moves back in time to war-torn Warsaw. During an air-raid, Radetzky meets American journalist Carole (Sally Gray) and there is a mutual attraction. Six months later, after the fall of Poland, Radetzky and his best friend Irish pilot Mike (Derrick De Marney) escape to Romania and then on to America where he meets Carole again and the two are married. For a while they are happy as Radetzky tours the US playing to packed music halls and rallying support for his oppressed homeland but he longs to be back up in the air fighting against the Germans and when he hears the English are recruiting pilots he is keen to sign up, despite Carole’s protests……..
First ever DVD release of this lost British classic. Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, a British filmmaker that worked steadily from the 1930’s through to the 1960’s and will most fondly be remembered perhaps for his 1951 adaptation of Dicken’s Scrooge starring Alastair Sim and his 1939 WWII propaganda film The Lion Has Wings. Written by Terence Young, who later went on to direct and of course will be forever remembered for giving us the first few Bond films in Dr No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball.
Dangerous Moonlight is a love-story-cum-war-film, highly melodramatic in it’s depiction of fighter pilot/pianist Radetzky’s emotional journey through duty, love, honor and redemption. The dialog, when not bogged down in sentimentality, has the characteristic zing of 40’s back and forth witty one-liners that is all but gone from today’s cinema, more’s the pity. At it’s heart it’s essentially a character study of Radetzky and to a lesser extent Carole; both actors are very watchable, despite Walbrook’s somewhat stiff delivery and odd eurotrash mannerisms, Sally Gray in particular is excellent here with a distinct character arc and natural on screen presence that helps invest the viewer in her story.
In other respects; being filmed in 1940, this also works quite well as a piece of Allied propaganda, reinforcing the contribution made to the war effort by Poland, boosting British morale and at the same time helping to influence public opinion in what was a still-neutral America. With Radetzky’s music symbolizing the ‘European culture’ that was in danger of being destroyed by the Nazis. Carole, the American wife, doesn’t want her husband to go back to the war but by the end of the film she has come to understand why he must return and supports him. It should also be noted that the movie’s excellent main musical theme; The Warsaw Concerto, composed by Richard Addinsell is still performed today to much critical acclaim while the film it was created for has been somewhat forgotten.
In it’s original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 fullframe the picture is very dark, it’s not a great transfer unfortunately, minor instances of print damage and dirt but really it’s the poor detail and dodgy contrast that detracts mainly. The mono audio track has quite a bit of hiss and noise throughout, mainly noticeable during the dialog scenes, the soundtrack does come through much cleaner than the dialog thankfully.
Extras include a bevy of original theatrical trailers for more titles in Odeon Entertainment’s Best Of British Collection namely; Brass Monkey, Candlelight In Algeria, Forbidden, Four In The Morning, Hell Is Sold Out and Light Up In The Sky.