Aventure malgache (1944) Movie Script

The entire world has heard about
the dramatic episodes
of the French Resistance.
No one knows better than you
the importance of this heroic period
in the history of the French nation.
The story that we are about to tell
will teach you nothing.
That, we know.
We tell it, because it is true.
And because it shows that,
across the seas,
in the farthest reaches
of the French Empire
we are one and the same.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced at Welwyn Studios, England
with the collaboration
of French-speaking writers
artists and technicians
working in Great Britain.
London, 1944.
A handful of actors in London,
were asked
by the French military authorities
to form a theatre company
and perform shows
for soldiers and civilians
but also for the many English
who know and love France.
One of the company's actors was,
until the war,
a lawyer in Madagascar.
It is the 28th June 1940.
Listen to his story...
- What's the problem, old boy?
- I don't understand a thing, that's all.
What don't you understand?
This character they've given me
in their new play.
I feel like I'm feeling my way in the dark,
I can't find anything.
- Let me tell you,
your acting is wonderful. - Yes?
- But you're playing a different role.
- Thanks for nothing.
Think of someone
and base your character on them.
Ah, if only you'd known
my old friend Michel!
- Michel Simon?
- It's not a Michel Simon role.
I wasn't talking about Michel Simon,
I was referring to Jean Michel,
Head of the Police in Madagascar.
But my character
is not a policeman,
quite the opposite,
he's a big time gangster.
And secondly, I don't know Madagascar
or your friend Michel.
Even so, you can still
base your character on him.
It's funny
because you look like him.
The first time that I saw you,
I said to myself,
"Fancy that!
He's the spitting image of Michel."
It would be easy, very easy
to get the two of you confused.
And you'd agree,
had you been in court with me
in Antananarivo in April 1940.
I declare that my client is innocent.
An importer of his standing has
no reason to breach the customs laws.
The rolls of silk
that were intended for him
disappeared from the
Tamatave custom house shop!
But I assure you
that my client did not steal them.
Who else but him
would have had an interest
in making them disappear?
Those who had an interest
in their being misplaced.
Who then?
These gentlemen from
the Police Directorate, for instance.
Whom I formally accuse of plotting,
conniving, and scheming this entire scam.
This is a complete fiction, stay tuned to
find out what happens in the next episode.
The worst detective novels
are always written by pseudo-detectives.
Kindly refrain from entering into any
controversial debate with the witness!
Your questions
must be addressed through me.
In that case, I accuse, firstly,
The Police Services
of conspiring to share amongst themselves
the 20% incentive
officially paid to those
who inform the authorities
about a violation of customs laws.
The public prosecutor has requested
a fine of 200,000 francs
which, along with the tax
and charges,
comes to over
650,000 francs to pay.
The gentlemen
of the Police Directorate
would therefore be collecting
over 100,000 francs
including the Head of Police himself.
That's quite enough.
What do you take us for?
For dangerous people
who have transformed Madagascar
into a fiefdom of exploitation.
Your Honour, I object!
Mr Clarus, careful what you say!
Your Honour, would you ask
the witness, Michel,
whether, in addition to the financial
interest he has in this affair,
he has a more direct
and personal interest?
Here we go again, fanciful ramblings!
Oh really!
I ask the court clerk to please
take note of the following question.
What was it that Michel attempted to do
to my client's wife?
Your Honour, I object!
If you continue with these
personal attacks against the witness,
I shall prevent you from speaking.
I shall take measures
against such an accusation
to defend my honour!
Honour? Come on now!
Nothing would prevent me
from telling you straight
that you are a gangster, Michel.
Gentlemen, this is intolerable!
The court shall enforce
all the necessary sanctions.
Hearing adjourned.
See you soon, Michel,
see you soon.
You'll pay for this, watch out.
Yes, until the next instalment,
see you soon, Michel.
Yes, I'm beginning to see this chap now:
a fat, vicious rascal.
No, you're on the wrong track,
imagine more of a harmless dandy
A dandy, ah, that's different then.
Why didn't you expose Michel's schemes,
didn't you have any proof?
No proof, my dear boy!
I had more than enough proof to get him,
and I would have done...
but for a small announcement
on the radio!
...to ask if they are ready
to join me in finding,
between soldiers,
after the struggle and for honour,
the means of ending hostilities.
Armistice, come on!
It's treachery, more like.
Good god, a Marshal of France,
Ptain, the hero of Verdun.
Will the veterans of Madagascar
accept this surrender?
Never! Never!
My friends!
- We must take immediate action.
- Yes, it's over to you, Mr Clarus.
If you lead the movement,
we'll follow you.
We have to contact
the other divisions on the island.
- Tananarive, Tamatave, Majonka.
- We have to keep up the struggle.
- England is not yet lost.
- And we're not lost either!
- Mass uprising!
- Let's defend the island!
One moment, my friends.
We must remain calm,
keep our heads, eh?
First, we must put ourselves at the
disposal of the military authorities.
The lady, these gentlemen
and myself
are part of a single council
that brings together all the
veteran groups who were formally rivals.
We have over 5,000 members
who wish to place themselves
at your service, General.
Thank you for your Sacred Union.
What are your intentions?
- To continue the war!
- At England's side!
- To keep Madagascar French!
- Despite the collapse of the Metropole.
To help our allies, one day,
drive the Krauts out of France.
Our first task is to organise
the defence of the island
against any attempts at an invasion.
If Japan enters the war soon,
our military base in Diego Suarez
will appear very attractive to them.
Allow me, General, but without wishing
to appear pessimistic,
we'll need arms to defend ourselves:
cannons, planes, tanks, submarines.
Where will we find these things?
I say that we must rally
all those with the desire to fight.
Don't you worry,
they'll find the means.
- England will help us.
- South Africa too.
In the name of helping us,
they'll send troops over,
occupy the big island and keep it.
Re-read your history books.
England already stole
India and Canada from us
South Africa has always wanted
Madagascar and its wealth,
its minerals, and other riches.
Let's be realistic.
Your British friends could easily
one day become your masters
Yes, let's be realistic.
Listen carefully, my friends.
I say, my friends.
You'll all admit, I'm sure,
that here in Madagascar,
we have just three options:
to be slaves to the Krauts,
to endure the Japanese yoke,
or to bow down to the English.
I prefer the last option.
- Oh yes!
- Absolutely!
- He's right! Yes!
- Well said! Well said!
We're all agreed.
General, this is not the time
for personal improvisation.
We have a leader in France,
Marchal Ptain.
You should obey him
and await his orders.
Indeed, it must be thought through.
You see, my friends
if I do nothing
I go against my conscience,
and if I act according to your wishes
I am a rebel.
Exactly, a rebel.
Don't forget, that above you
stands a Governor.
Would you have him imprisoned,
by any chance?
Oh! Slow down.
We must be sure to see things clearly.
The General was
basically a decent fellow,
though he wasn't the brightest.
Why didn't you escape
on the first boat out of there?
Impossible because Michel
would have suspected it, wouldn't he?
He must have suspended
all exit permits off the island though.
Of course, the boat service
had already ceased.
But we were organised,
we managed our modest affairs
without fuss,
without noise and oh so quietly.
So why did you stay?
Out of affection for Michel?
I stayed on the orders
of the Resistance.
My friends needed me
to organise new departures.
As a respected lawyer,
it made things much easier.
But Michel was no fool,
didn't he suspect anything?
Of course, but I was no fool either.
First, let me tell you,
I became a bigger Vichy supporter
than all Vichy supporters put together.
Oh! A complete turnaround!
Not even Michel could tell what I was.
- And the Governor?
- Like two peas in a pod!
Naturally, we both deplored
all the escapes that were taking place.
We've also received a new decree.
Another one!
Decrees, orders, and more orders,
our heads will explode.
All French nationals
are banned from leaving French territory,
be it Metropolitan or colonial,
to serve in a foreign army.
The German army, for instance.
To leave French territories, I ask you.
What chance is there
of leaving Madagascar, for example.
An island, surrounded by water,
no boat service left,
no external communication...
You'd have to grow wings to escape.
On to other things, Clarus.
I know the influence you have
on the natives and the veterans.
Well, use this influence
as an aid to public health.
We absolutely must fight,
by any means necessary,
the devious propaganda
the Gaullists have begun.
Oh, I know that
it's growing more and more,
Governor, count on me.
You're a good judge of men.
Allow me to tell you
that you are also an expert in cigars.
This one is excellent. Thank you.
He doesn't seem to be a bad guy.
Excuse me, Governor,
but I am not of the same opinion.
No, no, no. That Clarus is a good guy,
a good guy.
So, Mr Guyot, what's the news?
Another Gaullist escape:
19 officers and non-commissioned officers
of the main armourer.
Five civilians,
two women and a little girl of nine.
They left Diego on a 40-ton sailboat
that was owned by the captain
who led the expedition
along with
Mr Gabard and Mr Emela.
That's it, I was sure of it.
He knows everything, I tell you.
He knows everything
about the Resistance,
even if he's not its leader.
Have Clarus followed.
I want to know
his each and every move.
I need evidence, at all costs.
I have my own opinion.
Yes, but no accusations
without proof, Michel.
Personal animosity
is of no interest to me.
The day you bring me proof,
I'll listen, not before.
Well, you'll get them.
Just one piece of evidence
and I'll have him court martialled.
But listen to me carefully,
the evidence must be irrefutable.
Irrefutable! Understood?
Fear not. You'll get your proof,
and soon.
Ouch, it's getting complicated.
But despite that you continued
even with this informer on your heels?
Nothing so easy, nothing so simple.
Caution, discipline, secrecy,
absolute secrecy.
Good evening Louis,
forgive our lateness
but there's something new
and a change to our plans.
Good evening everyone.
Five of you were to be ready to leave
on Sunday night.
- Jules.
- My group is ready, right away.
Perfect, you'll leave this very night
and not Sunday.
Michel is becoming
increasingly suspicious.
He's even wary
of his friend Guillaume.
That beats everything!
The hunter hunted.
So, departure.
Embarkation at 2am in the morning.
- I'm leaving with them.
- That's what we all want.
But, Armand, the work
that you do here is vital.
Keeping watch over
the goods dispatched on ships,
you call that a job
of vital importance?
The British Admiralty
is of that opinion,
your reports go out first
in our secret broadcasts
to our friends on the outside.
Your job as a pointer
allows you
to nose around everywhere
without suspicion.
I understand, I'll stay.
So, my friends, let's be clear,
under no circumstances
are you to move from here.
We'll organise your luggage,
a guide will come and get you
from here at...
At exactly midnight.
Understood? Is that clear?
You are not to move.
They think we're at the cinema.
Goodnight, gentlemen.
Good evening Clarus.
Guillaud, thank you for all you have done.
I'll lie low a while.
Goodbye Jules.
Goodbye Pierre.
Ah, you are very lucky to be leaving,
I envy you.
Mr Clarus.
I'd like to say goodbye to someone.
My fiance.
It's close by, just for a moment.
No, it's impossible.
Go. Be quick.
Ha! Sentimental fool that I was.
Dear Pierre would never know
that his farewell kisses
were to change the entire
course of our adventure.
Oh darling, at last.
I thought you'd never come.
- What's wrong?
- I almost didn't come. I shouldn't have.
But I had to see you, so Clarus...
Clarus? What are you saying?
Yvonne, darling. Listen to me.
You know that some
are escaping the island
to join the allied forces.
Well, Clarus is in charge
of this movement
and me...
I didn't tell you before
because I didn't want to upset you...
Yes, darling. I'm going too.
I have to.
But our wedding, it's all arranged!
You won't be back within a month!
Possibly years.
Pierrot, think it over.
Think what it would mean for us!
All our happiness, all our lives.
You can't do this to me.
You're not allowed.
Yvonne, darling.
I love you, you know that.
Our love is my life,
but we're not free.
A country lives by the value and soul
of its men and of its women, Yvonne.
And you'll be brave, I know.
That's why I love you.
And I have faith in you.
I have to go now.
They're waiting for me.
No, I'll not let you! No, you can't!
I'm not leaving you,
nothing can separate us.
I'll return and we'll have joy,
happiness, peace.
Kiss me, Yvonne! Say goodbye.
Hello, Mademoiselle?
The Police.
The Police Directorate.
Two hours
after this telephone call,
I found myself in a cell.
I spent 35 days
in solitary confinement.
The 36th day,
bored of playing with my little mouse,
and having caught all the flies,
counted all the cockroaches...
- Ah, it's Mr Pannis.
- Yes, it's me. Hello, dear sir.
My dear colleague.
If only you knew how grateful I am.
You're my first contact
with the outside world.
Dear sir, the entire colony
is sorry to learn of your arrest.
- All the lawyers too.
- All of them? I doubt that!
You've always been good to me
and I felt it my duty
to offer you my services.
That's very kind of you.
Oh, I must admit,
the idea of defending a cause clbre...
What exactly
have you been accused of?
I have no idea.
I've not even been questioned.
What are they saying in town?
Resistance, I think,
conspiracy to escape too.
Really, and you'd be willing
to defend me
despite the seriousness
of the charges?
That's very kind of you.
They organised a court martial.
The first in Madagascar,
it's very serious.
Michel must have sworn
to get me this time.
He won't get us, believe me.
I say us, I mean, if I defend you.
Do you think we have a chance
against Michel?
What proof could Michel
have against you?
That's exactly
what I was wondering.
No doubt you were clever enough
to burn any compromising documents.
Dear Pannis, my documents
were not compromising.
All the better. Give me
all the details of your story.
The tiniest of details... I need to know
the pitfalls so as to avoid them.
Of course.
No doubt, you must have
letters and telegrams.
Telegrams? I sent many.
In our profession, indeed.
It might be used against you,
by claiming, for instance,
that they have a double meaning.
Michel is capable of anything.
You will need all the details.
I only have my memory
to help me in here.
When would you need
all these details by?
As soon as possible.
I brought you everything you need.
Excuse me.
I don't have anything to write with.
You'll have it
by tomorrow morning.
I'll work straight through.
Goodbye, kind sir.
Goodbye, dear colleague.
Dirty scoundrel, rotten sneak.
I would have thought
Michel was too intelligent
to think you'd have fallen
for the trap.
For, I understand him very well now,
the chap.
I see him, very clearly.
I too saw him very clearly.
What I saw clearly was
that my Michel was very troubled.
First telegram: "Your sister Wilbur".
"The chestnuts will ripen
on the 35th April."
- There are no chestnuts in Madagascar.
- There's no 35th April either.
Is that all you've found?
Sir, I did 10 years at the
ministry in Paris, I know my job.
It shows.
- May I suggest an explanation.
- An explanatory explanation?
The telegrams are on two levels.
Once we've deciphered them,
we have to uncover the meaning,
providing we find the code.
My role is restricted
to the first level, sir.
Basically, we still need to find the code.
Pablo, I suspected this a long time ago.
Do you have the information I wanted?
Yes, on your orders,
I checked all the bookshops in Tananarive.
Impossible to find a copy
of Les Fables de La Fontaine.
Yes, they've all disappeared.
They were sold suddenly three months ago.
No one knows why.
They couldn't tell me who to,
but mainly to children and natives.
But someone sent them.
But I get exactly the same information
from each and every town in the colony.
This time I think I've got them.
The key is in La Fontaine.
That was quite risky sending
all those coded telegrams.
Oh yes, I admit I was more
of an amateur conspirator back then.
I'd never make such mistakes now.
I can just see that toad Michel
at the court martial,
laughing, triumphant,
gloating at his success.
No, his attitude was rather different...
more, let's see, how should I say...
So, gentlemen,
you have the 132 decoded telegrams,
either sent or received
by the accused.
And these telegrams prove, irrefutably,
that Clarus was one of the organisers,
if not the head of the Resistance.
Therefore, I would like to request
capital punishment against Clarus.
Does the defence
have anything to say?
The court should note
my client's honesty,
for he says,
yes, I sent the telegrams,
yes, I knew about the escape
but I defy anybody to prove
that in the last three months,
he took part
in the Resistance movement.
Here then, is the crucial point
the prosecution must prove.
Otherwise, you should acquit my client,
or, at the very least,
allow for extenuating circumstances.
The Court Martial gives Paul Clarus
the death penalty.
He is to be executed 24 hours
after the ruling.
So, you were killed.
Luckily I was a Verdun war veteran.
Apparently, Marchal Ptain
himself sent a cable
to have my sentence reduced.
Ptain, such sweet irony.
Take note, angel Gabriel.
Yes, they gave me
five years forced labour.
And what of the Resistance?
- I was still in touch with the Resistance.
- Really?
Yes, even from my small cell,
with my alarm clock pressed to my ear.
Michel never found out
about the alarm clock.
My little alarm clock!
You were just a radio transmitter
but I liked you very much.
Your murmurs were sweeter
than any lover's.
Tell me,
did Michel lose interest in you?
Oh no. It took him nine months
to come up with something.
Take the handcuffs off.
That'll be fine, leave us.
Come closer, Clarus.
See the trust I'm showing you.
It may well be the last time
we meet, Clarus.
I'd like us to talk, man to man.
Come on, a glass of rum.
It won't hurt.
I have bad news for you.
You're leaving. To the labour camp.
Trans-Saharan railway.
It's deeply regrettable, Clarus.
A man such as yourself,
to lose everything
in this whole business.
Tilting at windmills.
To end up in a forced labour camp
when you could have...
Well, I feel pity, not for you,
but to those closest to you,
all those you care about,
and that you've sacrificed.
It doesn't matter to me
if you don't believe me,
but I'd like to give you
one last chance.
I can prevent your departure.
To keep you in Madagascar,
make your five years more bearable,
let you see your family more often
and give you regular news of them.
Go on, drink.
So, the cards are on the table,
old boy.
I can cancel your departure, if...
naturally, there's an "if"...
If you tell me
where your secret transmitter is,
the operator's name,
and the code used.
So, are you going to spill the beans?
Will you come clean?
Go on, drink, it sobers you up.
The condemned man's last drink.
To your health,
rotten old hypocrite, crook.
A little overdramatic, my character
would never react in such a way.
Your character?
What are you talking about?
I'm speaking of my role, my guy.
Ha! He's pinched your Michel from you!
If you want any news of him,
I'll know who to go to.
So your only hope was for
the Resistance to break you out.
And all the boats transporting
smuggled goods.
And for the one in a million chance that
the British Navy intercepts your convoy.
One in a million chance.
Come and take a look!
On the gangway!
They're checking the horizon
with their binoculars.
Edouard, there's smoke.
There's smoke but there's no fire.
No, that's it, our friends
have sent my message.
Yeah, yeah.
Come and see.
Come and see this smoke.
Come quickly. Look carefully at it.
You see!
It's freedom that's on its way!
I'm sure that they're English boats.
And the miracle happens.
The life of Paul Clarus, Episode 9.
I persuaded the Allied Authorities
to help me create
a radio broadcast in order
to get the Madagascans
on their side.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean,
Free Madagascar soon called out
to its friends and enemies.
You had to speak to the French
but also to Madagascans,
Indians, Chinese, in languages
they could understand.
That must have required
a huge number of people.
Hello, hello Madagascar!
Free Madagascar
speaking this evening.
Proclaim Madagascar's political
and economic autonomy,
and support the Allies.
Everybody, listen to me carefully,
You too Michel!
You hypocritical old ass!
Vichy supporter, child of Ptain,
and sneaky criminal!
Vichy will let the Japanese
take Madagascar over,
just like in Indochina.
But not the Allies.
When they arrive,
welcome them as liberators,
not as enemies.
Do not fight, despite the orders
of the Vichy traitors.
Good night and until tomorrow.
The Royal special tribunal
has just condemned
ex-convict, Clarus, to death,
for seditious and anti-French
propaganda on the radio.
And my predictions came about.
On 4th May 1942,
the British landed at Diego Suarez.
Vichy supporters
gave the order to fight.
The English occupied
the town militarily.
But, two weeks later,
the English General Sturge,
formally proclaimed
that the only flag that is to fly
over the French town hall,
over the French town
of Diego Suarez
is the French flag.
Michel must have understood
your warnings,
and fled to a safe place.
Old boy, you haven't yet understood
Michel's character.
The truth is that as soon as
he learnt of the Allied landings...
Shamed be he who thinks ill of this.
Oh, that's touching,
it brings tears to my eyes.
Don't tell me the English
were taken in by him?
- No!
- He was arrested.
It was his turn to be imprisoned!
And you claim, dear Clarus,
that nature has endowed me
with the necessary attributes
to play the role of the despicable
and rotten Michel!
Listen old fool, I tried helping you create
the character that you're supposed to play.
And I tell you it's an insult!
An insult from an insignificant
and low-grade lawyer.
Monstrous pig!
- Watch your mouth!
- Hey, come on chaps!
What's going on in here?
We're just rehearsing,
just rehearsing.
Isn't that so, old stooge!
Yes, yes.
What did she say?
Let's go, it's all over now.