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Colchester Trades Union Council
Holocaust Memorial Day

Held SUNDAY 28th JANUARY, 1pm - 8pm

Firstsite Gallery,
Lewis Gardens, High Street Colchester CO1 1JH

SO ENDS OUR NIGHT (1940)

So Ends Our Night (1940)So Ends Our Night (1940)So Ends Our Night (1940) So Ends Our Night (1940)So Ends Our Night (1940) So Ends Our Night (1940) John Cromwell director production design by William Cameron Menzies, story by Erich Maria Remarque, Albert Lewin United Artists release.

This 77 year-old complete original film print being shown at Firstsite includes 9 minutes lost footage restored, now running at 126 minutes. Because it was an independent production, original negatives of the film no longer exist and reprints were made with cuts and poor quality picture and sound running 117 minutes.

A 1945 original print carrying the certificate ‘A’ it is printed on Kodak manufactured print stock dated with edge code for 1945, it is an original 16mm print with sharp detail and excellent contrast. (There will be a short break for reel changes).

Fredric March, Margaret Sullavan, and Glenn Ford are refugees. The first a conscientious objector to the Nazi regime, the latter two explicitly Jewish. Their friendship and life-affirming solidarity is tested by the relentless violence and hopelessness of fascism in European society. Erich von Stroheim plays a Nazi thug. Also featuring Francis Dee, Sig Rumann, and Anna Sten.

So Ends Our Night was released in February 1941, ten months before the U.S. officially entered World War II. But that’s what makes this film so remarkable in a modern day context. Because it was an independent production produced by Albert Lewin and David L. Loew (released through United Artists), it fearlessly presents an unwieldy, nightmarish world where people are constantly on the run, always in fear of being rounded up because their “papers are not in order.”

Adapted from Flotsam, a novel by author Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front). It is 1937, and refugees Josef Steiner (March) and Ludwig Kern (Glenn Ford) find themselves in a Vienna jail cell for the crime of not having passports. Both men have fled Germany under Nazi rule; Kern is the son of a Jewish mother (now dead) and Aryan father, whom Ludwig hopes to contact in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Steiner is Aryan but because his politics clashed with the ruling party he was sent to Dachau; he managed to escape and is now on the run though he had to leave his wife Marie (Frances Dee) behind. Steiner’s nemesis from the old country, a Nazi named Brenner (Erich von Stroheim), has offered Josef the incentive of a valuable passport if he provides Brenner with the names of the members of the underground who assisted him in his escape from the concentration camp. Josef refuses despite his longing to be with Marie again. Josef and Ludwig are deported and once on the border, Kern makes tracks for Prague while Steiner sneaks back into Austria.

March’s story sort of takes a backseat to the romance between the two lovers. His interrogation scene with von Stroheim is fascinating (I also think this is one of von Stroheim’s finer hours, playing a cool, calculating villain who’s never over-the-top) but the true highlight is his flashback to the time when he was still evading capture in Germany, and before leaving the country decides he must see wife Marie one last time. The two of them take a stroll in a marketplace, she not daring to look back (she’s being watched) and him telling her that she must divorce him so that she will be safe from the Nazis’ persecution. Dee, who has very little dialogue in her role, is positively magnificent in the part; the anguish on her face is palpable at the thought of having to renounce her vows to her husband to ensure her safety.

Fredrick March gives a convincing performances as a man frustrated by separation. Shell-shocked at times, just before he’s able to pick himself up again and survive only by his wits. The advice he gives to Ford’s character as the two prepare to go their separate ways (him back to Vienna, Ford to Prague) is eminently memorable: the kid has to

“toughen up… don’t look for favours.

Individuals or nations, it’s all the same—as long as they’re safe and comfortable,

they don’t give a hoot what happens to others. There’s the misery of the world…

it’s why progress is so slow and things slip back so fast.”

 


 

Organised in association with Colchester Stand up to Racism and Colchester 6th form
College Friends not Foes Group.
For more information e-mail sutrcolchester@gmail.com or see the Facebook page

 

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