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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

HILL 24 Doesn't Answer

So this weekend Drew and I watched a movie he recorded from TCM awhile ago. The movie, Hill 24 Doesn't Answer was filmed in Israel in 1955. It was the first feature film to be shot in Israel, and was filmed primarily in English for foreign distribution.

The movie is about the birth of Israel as a nation. It begins, not with Israel's declaration of Statehood in May 1948, but rather, in July of that year, the night before the UN peacekeepers are to determine Israel's final borders. Four soldiers are chosen to claim Hill 24, an outpost on the road to Jerusalem. Their stories are told in flashback, as we find out who they are and what brought them to Palestine.

First we meet James Finnegan, who is in love with Miriam Miszrahi. They met during the time of the British Mandate in Palestine. He was a British Army investigator and she a member of the underground. Finnegan went home to receive his discharge, and returned to Israel and joined Miriam and the Israeli forces.

Allan Goodman, an American tourist, came for a three week tour, but was drawn into the fighting for the Old City of Jerusalem. He was wounded and met a Rabbi who inspired his course through religious training. He also met Esther Hadassi, a nurse at the hospital in the Old City, who is now a member of the team. Esther recalls the beauty of her birthplace, the Jerusalm hills. I would have liked to have heard more of her story. There is a long, sad scene as Allan, Esther, the Rabbi and others evacuate the Old City.

The fourth volunteer, a young Israeli named David Airam, is of Eastern European heritage. He tells of a recent incident that happened while he on patrol in the Negev Desert. He captured a wounded prisoner who turned out to be a former Nazi officer in WW II. The prisoner kills himself in a fit of hatred against Jews.

The UN peacekeeper finds the four soldiers dead on the hill, and awards the hill to Israel.

The movie was filmed in 1955, with considerable help from British filmmakers. The plot is a bit weak, especially the Finnegan story, and the filming technique seems a bit amateurish, but we still felt ourselves drawn into the story.

I was able to find the original NY Times movie review here

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