Decision Before Dawn

Decision Before Dawn

Decision Before Dawn is a 1951 American war film directed by Anatole Litvak, starring Richard Basehart, Oskar Werner, and Hans Christian Blech. It tells the story of the American Army's using potentially unreliable German prisoners of war to gather intelligence in the closing days of World War II. The film was adapted by Peter Viertel and Jack Rollens (uncredited) from the novel Call It Treason by George Howe.


By late 1944, it is obvious that the Germans will lose the war. American Colonel Devlin (Gary Merrill) leads a military intelligence unit that recruits German prisoners of war to spy on their former comrades. "Tiger" (Hans Christian Blech), a cynical, older thief and ex-circus worker, is willing to work for the winning side. On the other hand, "Happy" (Oskar Werner) is a young idealist who volunteers to spy after his friend is killed by fanatical fellow prisoners for voicing doubts about the war's outcome. Monique (Dominique Blanchar) trains Happy and the others in espionage techniques; she takes a liking to the young man despite her hatred for Germans.