Neagle, a Frenchwoman married to a British soldier, is living in London during the opening days of WW II. After her husband is killed in action during the fall of France, she listens to a radio appeal for photos of the French coast that the British navy can use. She sends in her holiday
snapshots, but she gets the address wrong and they end up at the War Office, where she is recruited as an intelligence agent. She tells her children that she is going to work in Scotland but instead undergoes intense training under control officer Howard. Later she is sent to France along with
radio operator Ustinov and stationed in Marseilles, from which she sends back vital intelligence while playing a cat-and-mouse game with suave Gestapo man Goring. Eventually she is captured and undergoes brutal torture, including being burned with hot pokers and having her toenails ripped out with
pliers. She endures it all without talking and is sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, where she is to be executed. On the day the sentence is to be carried out, however, American troops are about to free the camp and the Nazi commander decides that Neagle will be a valuable item to have
with him when he surrenders. Returned to Britain, Neagle eventually marries Howard.
This film was based on the true story of Odette Sansom Churchill. The filmmakers hired the real Odette as technical advisor and shot the film in many of the same locations in which the events actually occurred, including the rooms at Gestapo headquarters where she was tortured. The head of British
intelligence in London is played by the real espionage chief, Colonel Maurice Buckmaster. Producer-director Wilcox bought the rights to Churchill's story and first tried to enlist Michele Morgan to play her part, but Morgan refused, as did Ingrid Bergman. It was only when Churchill told Wilcox
that she had assumed his wife--and longtime collaborator--Neagle would play the part that Neagle was cast. Neagle's performance is one of her best in a long career filled with portrayals of British heroines, from Nell Gwyn through Queen Victoria and nurse Edith Cavell. The other actors are also
good, particularly Ustinov; only Goring's slightly effete Gestapo man lends a false note to the proceedings. Howard's real-life counterpart, Peter Churchill, was Winston Churchill's nephew. Wilcox, who made some 30 collaborative feature-film efforts with Neagle, stated that ODETTE was the film for
which he would most like to be remembered.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: Neagle, a Frenchwoman married to a British soldier, is living in London during the opening days of WW II. After her husband is killed in action during the fall of France, she listens to a radio appeal for photos of the French coast that the British navy ca… (more)