Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Tale of Anti-Nazi Sabotage Keeps Viewer Wide Awake

Cleveland Press January 19, 1966

"Heroes of Telemark" is based on an incident that took place in Norway during World War II, with a few obviously fictional embellishments. It is best when it stays within the framework of the mission at hand. It flounders slightly as it sets up movie cliche relationships between characters.

Basis for the story is an incident referred to by Sir Winston Churchill as "the single most important act of sabotage in World War II."

It involves a group of Norwegian resistance fighters whose mission it is to destroy a heavily guarded factory producing heavy water, a vital ingredient in the Nazi effort to produce an atom bomb.

A BOMBING RUN fails. So does a commando raid. With time growing short, the nine Norwegian members of the underground decide to raid the plant themselves.

But the sabotage is only a momentary setback to the Germans. The saboteurs look for a way to keep the heavy water supply from being shipped to Germany.

The movie was filmed in the mountainous Norwegian province of Telemark and the motion picture gains from it. There are ingeniously-done skiing sequences when the cameraman must have been on skis himself.

DESPITE its length, the movie manages to build credibly toward several climaxes. There are the expected heroics but they are not overdone. Director Anthony Mann keeps things happening at a reasonable rate.

One sequence -- the saboteurs moving through the snow toward the factory -- comes through especially well through the silencing of all background music. The result is some pretty taut footage.

The film is not without minor flaws. The enmity between Kirk Douglas as a scientist and Richard Harris as a resistance fighter is a stock situation.

ULLA JACOBSSON is Douglas' divorced wife whom he meets again because she is part of the resistance movement. Their renewed romance is another formula situation which the film could have done without.

The acting is strong. Douglas and Harris are particularly good.