The Angry Hills (Robert Aldrich / United Kingdom-U.S., 1959):

Between Casablanca and The Guns of Navarone, Greece under the German occupation. ("Nothing has changed from the Acropolis, has it?") The American war correspondent in Athens (Robert Mitchum) comes for the topless odalisques and stays for the list of underground names crumpled in his pocket, the Nazis snapping at his heels. Two-edged swords are prevalent: The smooth chief (Stanley Baker) who knows his love from his duty and the clammy traitor (Theodore Bikel) ready to pimp out his sister comprise the yin and yang of the local Gestapo, heroine duties duties are meanwhile split between the feisty village fighter (Gia Scala) and the doleful blackmailed widow (Elizabeth Mueller). Even the cultured Nazi Kommandant (Marius Goring) has his plummy reflection in the free agent (Sebastian Cabot) who swells around in Sydney Greenstreet's white suit and guttural chuckle. "One is tempted to ask, who is collaborating with whom?" Leon Uris by way of A.I. Bezzerides, a saturnine system of alliances and betrayals, skirmishes and escapes, cynicism and grace. Robert Aldrich is there on location with deep-focus long takes, scraping off the sheen of traditional heroism on the cusp of the new decade. A persistent theme (World for Ransom), "the product of a decadent society" and the chink in the fascist armor: "If I hadn't been spoiled by so many western movies, I'd just up and bushwhack you!" The sturdy midway point in Aldrich's European sojourn (Ten Seconds to Hell, Sodom and Gomorrah), with fine echoes for Le Petit Soldat and Night of the Shooting Stars. With Leslie Phillips, Donald Wolfit, Peter Illing, Jackie Lane, and Kieron Moore. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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