Battle of the V-1 (1958)

David Knight and Michael Rennie in Battle of the V-1 (1958)

War on the Cheap

"The incidents depicted in this film are in all essentials true", those are the words which greet you at the stat of "Battle of the V-1". Now being the sceptical movie fan that I am I take that to mean what we see are a collection of true events, from a woman caught and tortured to the spying of two Polish labourers. But I also take it that some of the facts will be embellished, altered and got wrong and I say that because "Battle of the V-1" is a low budget movie which looks cheap, has some wooden acting and at times comes across as being quite amateurish. Yet for those who enjoy adventurous war movies of daring do "Battle of the V-1" is still surprisingly entertaining.

As the Polish men are ordered to volunteer in Labour camps school teacher Stefan (Michael Rennie - The Day the Earth Stood Still) is approached by the Polish resistance to be his man on the inside, feeding back information via a series of clever codes. His friend, watchmaker Tadek (David Knight) joins him and together discover the Germans are building some form of rocket. Their espionage leads to the factory being bombed and their perilous escape but the job is only half done and the friends continue the work for the resistance as the British need a photo of one of these rockets.

Patricia Medina and Michael Rennie in Battle of the V-1 (1958)

The first thing which strikes you about "Battle of the V-1" is that it is cheap, the picture quality is cheap and the camera work is unimaginative. But don't let that put you off because whilst cheap looking the story is a reasonable little wartime adventure which whilst made for entertainment purposes highlights the work of the Polish resistance and the dangers they put themselves in. In fact the longer it goes on the more dramatic it becomes with a surprisingly tense finale when Stefan and Tadek try to defuse one of the rockets.

But whilst entertaining it does have other flaws and between me and you it would be ideal for being remade. The flaws come from it being cheap with a script which is devoid of decent writing and drama which ends up feeling convoluted. Basically it feels like the movie was made from a first draft for a wartime adventure movie which could have done with a rewrite before being submitted to a big studio.

The knock on effect of this is that none of the actors put in a good performance and in some cases come across as incredibly stiff. The worst of these is unfortunately Michael Rennie who as Stefan basically plays it as stoic from start to finish. In fairness Patricia Medina as his wife Zofia brings more life to her part as the concerned wife but that often encroaches on the overly melodramatic.

What this all boils down to is that I am sure the intention of "Battle of the V-1" was to highlight the work of the Polish resistance. But whilst it does it comes across as more of a low budget wartime adventure movie which in reality wouldn't be a bad movie to be remade, with a much bigger budget.