Review: Jules Dassin’s “Reunion in France,” Starring Joan Crawford and John Wayne

John Wayne, Joan Crawford, and Philip Dorn in
John Wayne, Joan Crawford, and Philip Dorn in "Reunion in France"

After making his first two films cheaply for MGM, budding director Jules Dassin found himself rewarded by the studio with two big stars and a wartime setting for his third, Reunion in France. Joan Crawford stars as a wealthy French woman who goes on vacation one day in 1940, only to return and find her country occupied by the Nazis. Flags with swastikas greet her at the train station, her home has become a bureau for the third reich, and even her fiance (Philip Dorn) now seems to have betrayed their country for the German invaders. When she meets and falls for a wounded American flyer (John Wayne), they hatch a plot to trick her fiance and his Nazi friends into letting the two of them escape to England. Wayne was still on his way up towards the superstardom he’s remembered for today, and as a result certain third act developments may surprise modern viewers even more effectively than those in 1942. Then again, MGM’s glamorized take on the war seems silly no matter the audience watching—for a nation under a new authoritarian rule, France seems to be getting along just fine. “If Reunion in France is the best tribute that Hollywood can muster to the French underground forces of liberation,” The New York Times wrote, “then let us try another time.” That didn’t stop audiences from flocking to see it, however—released in the final days of December 1942, it was regrettably one of MGM’s top 15 pictures of the following year.1

Where to Watch

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For More on Reunion in France

Read the review in The New York Times

Watch the Trailer

References   [ + ]

1. Randy Roberts, John Wayne: American (Lincoln, NE: Bison Books, 1995), 223.