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Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Operation Crossbow

1965 US
Dir: Micahael Anderson
Stars: George Peppard, Sophia Loren, Lilli Palmer, Tom Courtenay

     To tell the truth, I consider this movie mediocre even as an action movie. Then why I bring up the movie here? There are two reasons for it. The first one is concerning the peculiar handling of German side, and the second one is concerning to the two femmes appearing in this movie during rather short period; i.e, Sophia Loren and Lilli Palmer, both of whom were born in a non-English spoken country, Italy and Germany respectively.

About peculiar handling of German side.
     When I saw this movie first time, I thought this movie depicted the WW2 from German side at least first 30 minutes during which German side was depicted more affectionately than Allied side. While German scientists are patiently developing V-rocket with tight cooperation, British scientist's (played by Trevor Howard) only concern seems to discredit German scientists' ability to develop modern weapons that might have influence upon the course of the war so that the inability in his own part could be spared. There is even such a scene as a German female test pilot offers flowers to the grave of her colleague who was killed by riding on a mulfunctioning rocket. This kind of scene, especially a female person being involved, can easily provoke emotional reactions to viewers. In comparison with this, the appearence of the aforementioned self-preserving scientist makes the allied side look like they don't deserve to win the war at all. Probably it could be said that, as the scientist didn't know the due course of the war at that time, he might not have been so stupid as we might think. But this view is totally pointless, for the director and the writer surely knew what had actually happened, even if the scientist in question was supposed to be inaccessible to the knowledge of future episode. So, in this case, why they brought up such a person in the first place only matters. Considering the total destruction of the German facility in the last scene, this handling of both sides is totally inexplicable.

About two femmes appearing in this movie.
     Operation Crossbow is essentially an action movie, so it is the movie of men. But, if rather short period, there appear two notable actresses in the film. One is Sophia Loren, and the other is Lilli Palmer. Former plays a wife who doesn't know the fact her husband was killed, and a British officer (played by George Peppard) is impersonating him in order to infiltrate a German rocket factory. Latter plays a landlady, behind the cloak of which actually having been conducting several resistance activities. Eventually she kills Sophia Loren in order to protect the covert operation of George Peppard. By some inexplicable reasons, despite the fact she is a victim of the war, I cannot sympathize with Sophia Loren at all. On the other hand, it is rather easy to empathize with Lilli Palmer, even if she is the person who kills Sophia Loren. Of course, anyone can say there wasn't enough time for Sophia Loren to characterize herself. But it is also true to Lilli Palmer. Though Lilli Palmer is called a dreadful woman by Sophia Loren in a scene, I cannot help feeling truth is reverse, even if it is totally inappropriate considering the situation. Speaking honestly, I don't know much about Lilli Palmer, for she is essentially a 1940s and 50s actress and I rarely watch movies made before I was born. But judging by her acting in the movie Counterfeit Traitor (She is absolutely marvelous in this movie.) that is the only her appearing movie other than Operation Crossbow I have so far watched, she must have trenendous amount of warmth, or rather fragility that causes sympathy to any audience. On the other hand, Sophia Loren is the most difficult person for us to be aroused emotionally in any movie. Probably you might think who is this we? To tell the truth, I don't know. But generally for Japanese, she is not the kind of actress who arouses much empathy, though I am not sure it is also true to other countries' audiences.

     Finally despite all of this, I never say they should have switched their roles. I have a hunch, if they had done so, all those scenes in the hotel would have been completely forgettable. Though I cannot explain the reason for it clearly, it might be related to Lilli Palmer's natural tallent for having audience noticed her ambivalence without any blatant divulge of emotions.

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