“He’s a Prussian — he’s an enemy! I don’t eat with enemies!”
During the Franco-Prussian War, a patriotic laundress (Simone Simon) refuses to dine with a German soldier (Kurt Kreuger), thus jeopardizing the plans of her fellow travelers.
Val Lewton produced and Robert Wise directed this competent yet decidedly uninspired war-time allegory, based on two short stories by Guy de Maupassant. At only 69 minutes long, it’s short yet dull, and comes across as little more than a vehicle for stirring patriotic fervor in WWII audiences. Simon’s character (NOT the “Fifi” of the title — that moniker is inexplicably assigned to the Evil Kraut she refuses to dine with) is held up in stark, idealized contrast to the stereotypically smug bourgeois folks she’s traveling with, most of whom fail to undergo any meaningful change over the course of the film. Simon is really the only reason to watch this movie — while no great actress, she at least exudes some much-needed character and personality.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Simone Simon as “the laundress”
No. It’s listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, but I’m not sure why.