One of the countless military training films made at the Hal Roach studio during World War II -- I'm pretty sure I spotted a set from his Nazty Nuisance comedy -- Resisting Enemy Interrogation is different from many others of its kind. For one thing, it could pass for a "real" 65-minute B-movie feature, despite never being shown to civilian audiences on its original release. It was good enough, in fact, to have earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary -- a strange category for a fictional movie. (Feel free to make your own Michael Moore joke.)
|"Remember, men -- name, rank and|
SAG membership number."
|"Have some water, pal. And pay no attention to|
And although the Lieutenant's already warned his crew not to talk, all of them -- including, ultimately, the Lieutenant himself -- give just enough "innocent" yet vital information that allows von Behn to figure out where the next U.S. bombing raid will occur. (Somewhere in a Russian airport, Edward Snowden is thinking, just get the thumb drive, bro!) To make doubly sure Resisting Enemy Interrogation's intended audience gets the point, each bit of incriminating info is accompanied by a melodramatic music sting. Something like that in real life would make, say, police work much easier.
|"We have ways of making you talk.|
Or making you not talk. Or something."
|Today, he'd tell you to shut the F up.|
Lloyd Nolan appears at the very end, as the American officer recapping what just transpired and, looking straight at the camera (i.e., the troops in the audience), dramatically intoning the film's mantra: "Don't talk." Or as he puts it, "Don't tawk." Pretty heavy New York accent for a guy born in San Francisco. That's Method acting before it even existed, and it's still a chilling moment.
|George O'Hanlon out of uniform.|
|I get the heebie-jeebies just looking at him.|
Whoever decided Resisting Enemy Interrogation should be a straight-ahead narrative rather than an "educational" movie deserved a promotion. Because as both an historical artifact and a drama, this is one of the more fascinating pieces of wartime "entertainment" you'll ever see. And if you're a married man, take notes while you watch; many of the situations these guys go through will be familiar to you. Most obvious rule: Don't try to lie. They'll see right through it and it only gets them angrier.
To view Resisting Enemy Interrogation on YouTube, click here.
To read about Address Unknown, click here. To read about Nazty Nuisance, click here.