Against the Wind (1948)
Where Sparrows Dare
Father Philip Elliott (Robert Beatty) is recruited to join a group who will be secretly trained in London to become saboteurs so that they can be parachuted into Belgium to sabotage the enemy. When one of their team ends up caught on a mission the rest of them are sent over to rescue them. Duncan (Gordon Jackson) the explosives expert finds himself in over his head as whilst he can speak the language his Scottish accent puts him in great danger and relying on radio operator Michelle (Simone Signoret), the most determined of the bunch, to help him through. But their mission is not plain sailing as they discover one of the team is a traitor.
Watching "Against the Wind" now and you can't but help see the similarity between this Ealing production and movies which would come later with its story of special agents parachuting behind enemy lines only to discover they have a traitor in their ranks. And sadly whilst some of those later movies were great action thrillers "Against the Wind" is very much a product of its time and more about the characters and drama rather than the action and excitement. On the subject of which when "Against the Wind" was released in 1948 it didn't do well at the box office with it often being said that it was released too soon after the war.
So what do we get in "Against the Wind"? Well I would say typical is the keyword as whilst early on we see the team training it is combined with some humour from a pub sing along to Duncan showing Michelle the various explosives including some hidden in horse manure as well as rats. Even when the training is done with and we have the mission it just feels typical of this sort of early WWII movie with a less than authentic feel to life during war, some danger and some romance.
But it does have some memorable moments such as the scene where Michelle learns the identity of the traitor and without hesitating kills them. Plus there is the relationship between Michelle and Duncan with Signoret coming across as the woman of experience who toys but cares for the naive and nervous Duncan. In the end it is the performances more than anything which makes "Against the Wind" watchable although there are some scenes with nice cinematography.
What this all boils down to is that "Against the Wind" is not a spectacular war movie, in truth it is only average. But in many ways it is an influential movie as many similar movies would follow over the decades.
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