Uncertain Glory (1944)

Uncertain Glory (1944), directed by Raoul Walsh.

In France during WW2, a condemned prisoner escapes the guillotine by seconds when his prison is bombed. He almost gets out of the country but the implacable police inspector recaptures him and is bringing him back in cuffs when the fugitive proposes an ingenious plan: he will confess to being a wanted saboteur, thereby saving a hundred civilians from being executed in reprisal by the Germans. It's a cynical ploy for another escape, but as in A Tale of Two Cities (1935), in the end the cynical man sacrifices himself for a higher cause.

This is a good vehicle for Errol Flynn, a chance to do something neither action/adventure nor lushly romantic. It could have been a straight wartime drama, but having Flynn they must insert some comic touches and romantic interest. This muddies the tone a bit. Still it is well made and better than I expected from its reputation. Walsh is better than your average B movie director.

Paul Lukas is fine as the policeman, a sort of Maigret character who struggles with his conscience and finally steps over the line for a greater good.