Warner Archive makes July 24, 2018 a day that will live in infinity (and beyond) with the (reviewed) separate but equal Blu-ray release of the universal cut (with bonus DVD of the director's cut) of "Supergirl" and the DVD release of the 1943 Errol Flynn WWII drama "Edge of Darkness." This nail-biter stars the dashing Flynn as Norwegian fisherman Gunnar Brogge who leads the resistance effort of his small town against the Nazi occupation. The depth this time comes in the form of the character studies of the townfolks.
"Darkness" opens in a thoroughly modern manner in that German aviators flying over the aforementioned burg make an observation that prompts a closer look. That leads to an investigation in which it is discovered that streets literally are littered with dead German soldiers and that the same is true regarding a hotel that we soon learn is the former local German army headquarters,
The 21st-century movie aspect comes next when the action shifts backwards several weeks. Gunnar, and Karen Stensgard (Ann Sheridan), who is the main squeeze of Gunnar and the daughter of town doctor Martin Stensgard (Walter Huston), are keeping a low profile while waiting for news of a shipment of guns from the British army.
Martin Stensgard is not so fond of the Nazis but is staying neutral, his wife Anna (Ruth Gordon) is dazed and confused, and son Johann (John Beale) is a low-level collaborator who arrives home from Oslo in the middle of the film. Cannery owner Kaspar Torgerson (Charles Dingle) is the friendly collaborator who also is the brother of Anna.
An amusing element of "Darkness" is a connection with the sequel to the '*80s comedy film "Mannequin." "Mannequin on the Move" (1987). The titular store display in "Move" is from the Bavarian kingdom of Hauptmann Koening, which is the name of the German commander in the "Darkness" town.
The prelude to the primary action in "Darkness" is a nearby town getting the aforementioned allied support. The resulting armed conflict with the Nazis not ending well for the villagers provides some neighbors of Gunnar to believe that resistance is futile.
The tension mounts as the Germans amp up their defenses against an anticipated attack by the occupied. Things fully come to a head when the occupiers make an example of a local who stands up to them.
Oscar-winning director Lewis Milestone ("All Quiet on the Western Front") superbly orchestrates the ensuing melee in which the Germans figuratively (and presumably literally) lose their feces in direct proportion to the villagers becoming emboldened. These events also reignite feels of revulsion regarding a report of a particular atrocity that supports the understated observation that Nazis are not nice.
The first larger perspective this time is the fascinating look at where the villagers fall along the Kinsey Scale of collaboration, One can understand how folks such as Gunnar and Karen feel obliged to mount active resistance and others such as Martin Stensgard choose to simply wait things out. It even is understandable that folks like Johann present an appearance of cooperation. Full-on collaborators such as Kaspar have more 'splainin' to do.
A cooler larger perspective is the parallel with the American Revolution. The patriot militia is like that of the villagers in that they are an informally organized covert group literally outgunned by a larger and formally organized and trained occupying enemy.
Archive further excels in outdoing itself regarding the always exceptional special features in its releases. The treat this time is a plethora of vintage shorts grouped under "Warner Night at the Movies." We get two cartoons, the theatrical trailer for "Darkness" and "The Hard Way," a newsreel, and other equally good retro fare.
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