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Q: French post-war cinema ( No Answer,   0 Comments )
Subject: French post-war cinema
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Movies and Film
Asked by: nom_de_recherche-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 28 Jun 2002 15:52 PDT
Expires: 28 Jul 2002 15:52 PDT
Question ID: 34691
What is the name of French film, made sometime between late 50s and
early 70s, about justice in occupied France?  Following murder of
German officer on Paris Metro (a true story), Germans insisted that
French justice system convict somebody, even though real perpetrator
could not be found.  Film deals with attempts at buck-passing from
local magistrates right up to Marshal Petain, and down again.  In
England the film was, unusually, shown on television immediately prior
to its first UK cinema release (at the Curzon in Mayfair).

Request for Question Clarification by huntsman-ga on 29 Jun 2002 14:37 PDT
[nom_de_recherche, this RFQ is repost of my misplaced "answer": sorry
for the confusion. Your subsequent clarification is also included at
the bottom of this text.]



Given the fact that your subject crosses several decades of history
and French cinema, the answer proves elusive. I have not yet been able
to find the title of the film.

Would you happen to remember anything else about the film, such as:

- Actors' first or last names?
- Character names?
- Other films you may have seen starring the same actors?
- Director's name?
- Production company?

And so on. 

I have uncovered some interesting background information about the
historical incident that the film is based on: perhaps it will help
you identify the film.



Historical Background -

German forces invaded France in 1940, occupying Paris and marching
triumphantly down the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées of Paris on June
14th, 1940. Resistance to the German Occupation quickly grew, with
student and civil protests evolving into armed actions by the French

On August 21st, 1941, a German naval officer named Alfons Moser was
shot and killed at the Barbès-Rochechouart Station of the Paris Metro
subway. The "assassin", who escaped without being arrested, was
Pierre-Félix Georges, a 22 year old French Communist and member of the
Resistance. Georges' "nom du guerre" was "Colonel Fabien".

In reprisal, the Germans executed several Resistance members in the
Gestapo prison at Mont Valerien, Suresnes, on the western side of
Paris. The Germans' pursuit of the (unknown to them) assassin, along
with the help of France's Vichy government, apparently forms the plot
of the film you're looking for.

Notes and further references follow.


Pierre-Félix Georges, aka "Colonel Fabien" -

Spartacus Educational
Colonel Fabien

"Pierre Georges was born in France in 1919. The son of a baker, he
joined the Communist Party while only a teenager. At seventeen he
volunteered to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.
Badly wounded, he returned to France in 1938 and soon became active in
the Communist Youth movement.

Soon after Henri-Philippe Petain signed the armistice with Germany in
June, 1940, Georges joined the Frances-Tireurs Partisans. It was
organized as a pyramid and based on triangles of three members. This
proved to be a flexible and relatively secure structure. Trade
unionists were especially active in the group and they were heavily
involved in industrial sabotage. Other targets included railway
tracks, electricity cables and telephone lines.

On 21st August, 1941, Georges (now known as Colonel Fabien) shot and
killed a German naval officer [Moser] in the Paris subway. He also
became an expert at blowing up trains. This led to his arrest but
despite being tortured he managed to escape in June 1943.

After the D-day landings took place he helped to organize the planned
insurrection. Pierre Georges was killed in fighting at Alsace on 27th
December 1944."

Order of the Liberation [and history of the German Occupation]

"However, in early 1941, the group at the Museum of Mankind was
dismantled. Repression became more intense, as did the determination
of the Resistance movement in Paris. On July 14th, a patriotic
demonstration at Place de la République led to the arrest of 1,500
people. On August 21st, Pierre-Félix Georges, alias Fabien, shot an
officer called Moser at Metro Barbès [station]. A week later, in
response to this, the Germans executed 18 Resistance workers at Mont
Valerien, including Lieutenant d’Estienne d’Orves"

Vichy Web Page
Who's Who In The French Resistance

"Colonel FABIEN 1919-1944
Colonel FABIEN’s real name was Pierre GEORGES. He was a young
communist who had fought on the Republican side during the Spanish
civil war. After having served as a propaganda agent for the
communists in the Marseille area in the immediate aftermath of the
armistice, he returned to Paris in 1941 where he became assistant
commander of the communist youth groups and tried to encourage these
groups to turn their attention to shooting down German soldiers in
occupied France. Following the execution of 2 Communist militants on
19 August 1941, FABIEN carried out the first assassination of a German
officer, MOSER, himself- an assassination which took place on 21
August in the métro Barbès. The execution of these communists and
FABIEN’s attack on MOSER was the beginning of an increasing spiral of

Representations of War in Western Europe, 1939-1945
by Pieter Lagrou

"In the history of Western European Resistance movements, the strategy
of randomly shooting German soldiers remains exceptional and
controversial. The figure of Colonel Fabien, the first communist
militant who shot a German officer in the Paris metro in August 1941
is emblematic, rather than representative. In communist ranks, the
strategy was contested because of the tremendous price arrested
militants and innocent civilians paid in German retaliation shootings
and because of its unpopularity."


The German Officer, Alfons Moser -

"The German Army in France, 1940-1942" 
by Thomas J. Laub
University of Virginia, Charlottesville

"After the assassination of Naval Cadet Alfons Moser on 22 August
1941, German officials informed the French government of their hostage
policy and publicized measures through a series of radio
announcements, newspaper articles, and posters. But the policy failed
to stop additional attacks. On September 3 a resistance group
assassinated a second German officer and, three days later, the
military government executed three hostages.(12) Violence and counter
violence began to spiral out of control, raising serious concerns
among leaders in Paris, Vichy, and Berlin."


"21/8/41 - A la station de métro Barbès-Rochechouart, des coups de feu
sont tirés par Pierre Georges (colonel Fabien) sur un officier de la
marine allemande (Alfons Moser) qui décède. Brustlein assure la
protection, Gueusquin et Zalkinow participent à l’opération."


Related Place Names & Locations -

As far as I can tell (from distant Colorado), the major place names of
the Fabien - Moser assassination are located in the north-northeast
section of Paris:

Paris Metro Map

Paris Metro Map

On these maps, The "Barbès Rochechouart" station is in the upper
center area (above map center), at about 12 o'clock, near "Gare du
Nord". The station is on Metro Line 2 (dark blue), between the
"Pigalle" and "La Chapelle" stations.

The "Colonel Fabien" Station can be seen in the maps' upper right area
(above map center) at about 2 o'clock, near "Chateau London". This
station is also on Metro Line 2 (dark blue), between the "Belleville"
and "Jaurès" stations.

A picture of the Art Nouveau entrance to the Colonel Fabien Station
can be seen here:

Art Nouveau
Metro Entrance In Paris
There is also a Parisian street and plaza named after Colonel Fabien.


Possible Contacts -

Since Colonel Fabien was a French Communist hero of World War II, one
place worth contacting might be the film and video archive of the
French Communist Party in Paris. Providing they understand English (or
you French), they may recall the title of the theatrical film.

2 Place du Colonel Fabien
75019 Paris, FRANCE 

Tel: +33 1 40 40 12 50 
Fax: +33 1 40 40 13 95 

Contacts: Gerard Steiff, Joelle Malberg 

The above contact information is from:

The Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries International Ltd
Members' Directory


Search Terms & Google Results - 

Many of the following searches link to French Web sites. I looked for
obvious references, but not speaking French myself, I undoubtedly
missed things. Google offers online page translations (which I used on
a few pages), but it's a little impractical to review dozens of French
sites this way.

I also used Google's Language Tools
to translate some French terms into English, or vice-versa.

If you understand French (or know someone who does), you may want to
review these search results yourself.

"french resistance" german officer killed paris metro 

"french resistance" moser fabien

"Paris Metro" map

"Paris Metro" "colonel fabien"

"colonel fabien" 

"colonel fabien" cinema


[Clarification by nom_de_recherche]

Request for Answer Clarification by nom_de_recherche-ga on 29 Jun 2002
04:30 PDT
Salutations =

Thank you for the effort you are putting into this difficult search,
and for the interesting information provided.

I regret that I have no film-credit information.  I cannot recall that
there were any well-known actors in the film, which was, nevertheless,
an expensive production.  One of the scenes, for instance, shows
attempts to contact Marshal Petain in his box at the Opera (real
location, with large cast).  Another character in the film is likely
to have been the Vichy Government Minister Pierre Laval.

My eventual objective is to obtain a video of the film, but, when I
have been in France, I have been unable to find any trace of it in
video catalogues. Its disappearance has even made me wonder whether
the film has been suppressed because it depicted too accurately the
situation in France during the occupation.

Since posting my question, it has occurred to me that, although the
film was not shown publicly in the UK before the late 50s, it could
possibly have been made somewhat earlier. It is more likely to have
been made at the earlier end of the timescale I have suggested than at
the later end (the early 70s).

Sorry I have been unable to provide any more helpful information. =

nom_de_recherche +

Request for Question Clarification by huntsman-ga on 29 Jun 2002 14:40 PDT
As noted above, have you considered contacting the film archives at
the French Communist Party?

Clarification of Question by nom_de_recherche-ga on 30 Jun 2002 06:40 PDT
huntsman =


Reply to your clarification request at the end of the information you

The source you suggest is worth considering next time I am in France,
but the actual perpetrator may not even have been identified in the
film as he was only incidental to the story, which concerned the
dilemma of the French judiciary and Government in having to convict an
innocent person in order to stop the killing of further hostages.

A source within the UK would yield the name of the film, but unless
the name is also listed elsewhere with further information about the
film, I would be unable to proceed further.  The source I have in mind
is the national newspaper library at Colindale (a suburb of London),
where I could find it by going through several years' editions of the
London evening papers or weekly publications such as "What's on in
London".  There I could find it from the Curzon Cinema listings.

Again many thanks for your efforts =

nom_de_recherche +
There is no answer at this time.

There are no comments at this time.

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