Odette


Odette, WWII Movie starring Anne Neagle and Trevor Howard

Odette, WWII Movie starring Anne Neagle and Trevor Howard

(1950) Odette Sansom, a French woman living in England, was recruited by the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) to go into France and work with the French underground. She left her three children in a convent. I kept wondering, why on earth would she do this? Her father, I read, was a hero, killed during World War I. Perhaps he was her inspiration.

In 1949 Jerrard Tickell wrote a book about Odette, and in 1950 this British film came out.  At Turner Classic Movies I learned that the star, Anna Neagle, spent a lot of time with Odette and visited the prison camps where she had been held.

It was a little hard for me to understand some of the dialogue, and there was no closed captioning available, so I am sure I missed some of the details but I had no problem understanding what was happening.

Odette was captured, and the Gestapo tortured her for information, but she never divulged anything.  Also captured was another SOE agent she worked closely with whose name was Peter Churchill. Although he was not related to Winston, Odette claimed to the Gestapo that he was and that they were married.  This was used to her benefit, as her Ravensbrück prison camp captors hoped to use her as a negotiating pawn once the Allied Forces moved in.

Odette did marry Peter Churchill after the war. (Her husband Sansom was dead by then.) I found some photographs here. However, their marriage only lasted until 1956.  Peter went on to write several books about his war experiences.

As always, I loved that the movie was so French. I couldn’t find out for sure, but I am sure that the movie was filmed at many of the actual (or near actual) locations there.  Because the war had been over for such a short time and because of Odette’s involvement I believe this must be a realistic depiction of the French underground activities.

Watch an original trailer on the Turner Classic Movies website.

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  1. 2012 March 30

    I have just completed writing a WW 11 Romantic/Drama set in Paris in 1940, and begun back in 2006/7

    I have named the Hero ” Travis ‘ . He is a West Point Military Graduate who meets a beautiful and talented and very brave young singer in Paris -I am not allowed to divulge any more of the “Storyline ” due to ” Contractural Agreements/etc
    However , I am taking a 10-minute Promo DVD of this potential “block-buster ” to Cannes , France , for their annual Film Festival in May–as an Accredited Movie Writer !
    Purpose—-to interest a Producer to make the Movie -which is named “Le Film Francais “

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