WriterDudley Nichols (screenplay) Release dateMay 7, 1943 (1943-05-07) ScreenplayJean Renoir, Dudley Nichols CastCharles Laughton (Albert Lory), Maureen O'Hara (Louise Martin), George Sanders (George Lambert), Walter Slezak (Major Erich von Keller), Kent Smith (Paul Martin), Una O'Connor (Mrs. Emma Lory) Similar moviesMaze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Fury, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Monuments Men, Tokyo Story
This land is mine
This Land Is Mine is a 1943 American drama film directed by Jean Renoir and starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara and George Sanders. The film is set in the midst of World War II, in an unspecified country in German-occupied Europe that is clearly France. Laughton plays Albert Lory, a cowardly school teacher in a town "somewhere in Europe" (according to the film's opening title card) who is drawn into advocating resistance through his love of his country and of his fellow teacher Louise Martin, portrayed by O'Hara.
The film is one of the more acclaimed of the propaganda-tinged war films of the era. It won the 1944 Academy Award for Best Sound Recording (Stephen Dunn). Having opened simultaneously in 72 theaters, the film set a record for gross receipts on an opening day upon its May 7, 1943 release.
This land is mine preview clip
Albert is an unmarried schoolmaster living with his dominating mother and secretly in love with his neighbour and fellow teacher Louise. Widely regarded as ineffectual, he embarrasses everybody by his panic during an Allied air raid. Louise is however engaged to George, the head of the raillway yard, who like many in the town believes that collaboration with the German occupation is the only logical course.
Her brother Paul, who works in the yard, is an active resister and, trying to kill the German commandant Major von Keller, instead kills two German soldiers. After turning a blind eye to previous acts of resistance in the hope of preserving good relations, von Keller must now act and takes ten hostages, saying they will be shot in a week if the guilty person is not found. Albert's mother, jealous of Louise, tells George that it was Paul. George tells von Keller and then, in a crisis of conscience, shoots himself. Albert bursts in a minute later, furious at discovering his mother's treachery, and is found with corpse and gun.
Regarding it as a matter for the civilian courts, the Germans expect Albert to be condemned. When in his defence he starts an impassioned plea for resistance, the prosecutor requests an adjournment. That night von Keller comes to his cell and offers a deal: if he will keep quiet next day, new forged evidence will acquit him. To emphasise the point, in the morning the ten hostages are shot beneath his window. Back in court, Albert is all the more eloquent in the cause of liberty and the jurors proclaim him innocent. Freed and back in his schoolroom, with a proud Louise by his side, he is reading to the boys the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen when German soldiers come to take him away.
Charles Laughton as Albert Lory
Maureen O'Hara as Louise Martin
George Sanders as George Lambert
Walter Slezak as Major Erich von Keller
Kent Smith as Paul Martin
Una O'Connor as Mrs. Emma Lory
Philip Merivale as Prof. Sorel
Thurston Hall as Mayor Manville
Ivan F. Simpson as Judge
George Coulouris as Prosecutor
Nancy Gates as Julie Grant
John Donat as Edmund W. Lorraine
Though the prime purpose of the film is propaganda, to strengthen Allied resolve in the fight against Nazism, critics at the time and since have noted that Nichols and Renoir adopt a distinctively nuanced approach. The Germans, with von Keller an eloquent advocate of the advantages for Europe of Nazi rule, are not shown as mere brutes. Nor are the French, apart from the few mental or physical resisters, shown as heroes battling tyranny. Instead, some readings suggest that, as in Renoir's previous films La Grande Illusion and La Règle du Jeu, class may be more significant than race or nationality. For example, James Morrison cites how the film blames the bourgeoisie, a few left-wing intellectuals excepted, for letting Hitler into power in 1933, for surrendering France in 1940 and for collaborating, actively or passively, since.
This stance was confirmed by Renoir shortly after the film came out when, in a speech, he asserted that his recent films breathed this breath of anti-Fascism and were rooted in the experience of the Popular Front of 1936, which was a magnificent exposition of human brotherhood.