Odette tells the true story of Odette Sansom, played by Anna Neagle (“No, No Nanette”, “Maytime In Mayfair”), who was the first woman to be awarded the George Cross, in 1946, and the Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur. In fact she was the most decorated woman, and decorated spy, of any gender during World War II.
You would expect then that the story of this remarkable woman, who was imprisoned and tortured, brutally, by the gestapo, as well as her general exploits during the war, would make for an exciting, thrilling and sometime hard to watch film.
But sadly that’s not the case. Odette is a slow affair, running at over two-hours, but yet appears to skip great swathes of Odette’s training and, whilst her imprisonment and torture is featured, it’s tame compared to what we see on screen these days.
There are some pretty ropey performances too, particularly from the “Germans”, look for the officers talking during and after the torture scenes, it’s like he’s desperately trying to remember his lines.
There are some good performances though, not just from Neagle, but also Trevor Howard (“The Third Man”, “Brief Encounter”) as her handler in France, and a young Peter Ustinov (“Spartacus”, “Death On The Nile”), as a spy.
As for the blu-ray, well, I’ll be honest, I don’t see the point in releasing (or buying) a blur-ray of a film that’s in 4:3 format and black and white, maybe that’s just me. You get a few extras: Those British Faces: Anna Neagle, New Interview with Sebastian Faulks, Interview with Odette Sansom from 1980 and footage of the actual wedding of Odette and her handler, Captain Peter Churchill (Howard).
It’s a real shame the movie doesn’t live up to the amazing story behind this woman and her exploits during the war. She deserves something much, much better than this.
THE QUICK SELL
During WW2, a French woman living in England volunteers to work for British Intelligence in Nazi-occupied France.