36 Hours 1964 DVD - James Garner / Eva Marie Saint
Having attended General Eisenhower's final briefing on the Normandy landings, U.S. Army Major Jeff Pike is sent to Lisbon, Portugal on June 1, 1944, to meet an informant to confirm that the Nazis still expect the invasion at the Pas de Calais. He is abducted and transported to Germany.
Pike wakes up in what looks like a U.S. Army hospital. His hair is graying, and he needs glasses to read. He is told it is May 1950 and he is in post-war occupied Germany. Psychiatrist Major Walter Gerber explains that Pike has been having episodes of amnesia since he was tortured in Lisbon. He advises Pike that his blocked memories have always resurfaced, helped along by a therapy of remembering events prior to Lisbon and then pushing forward into the blank period. Various props including U.S. Army jeeps and uniforms, baseball, and fake letters, newspaper and radio broadcasts, are used to carefully convince Pike that the year is 1950 and that he is among fellow Americans. He is assisted by a German nurse, the dispassionate Anna Hedler. Pike is taken in by the deception. As part of his "therapy", he recounts the critical details of the invasion plans, including the location and the date, June 5, to his eager listeners.
When Pike notices a nearly invisible paper cut he got the day he left for Lisbon, he realizes that he has been deceived. He confirms it by tricking an "American" soldier into reflexively snapping to attention in the German manner. He confronts Anna, who admits that the date is June 2, 1944. She was recruited from a concentration camp because she was a nurse and spoke English.
Pike instructs Anna to tell Gerber that he was onto the plot, while he makes a feeble attempt to escape. Quickly recaptured, he states that he realized what was going soon after waking up due to his paper cut. Gerber does not believe him. After two days of interrogation, however, Pike and Anna convince SS agent Schack, who never believed the deception would work. Schack is sure the invasion will be at the Pas de Calais. Gerber, however, sets the clock forward in Pike and Anna's room so they think it is the morning of June 5, then states that the Germans have been surprised at Normandy. Pike lets his guard down and confirms it. Gerber sends an emergency dispatch, but the weather on June 5 is so bad that Eisenhower postpones the invasion a day (which actually occurred). By midday June 5, Gerber has been discredited and Schack orders his arrest.
Gerber knows that Schack will kill them to cover his own blunder when the Allies do finally land at Normandy. Gerber helps Anna and Pike escape, asking Pike to take his groundbreaking research on amnesiacs with him. When the invasion begins the next morning, he laughs at Schack when he arrives, revealing that he has taken poison and pointing out that Schack will likely be liquidated. Schack pursues the escapees on his own, too hurried to wait for troops.
The couple flee to a local minister who (Pike knows) had helped downed RAF pilots escape to nearby Switzerland. The minister is away, but his housekeeper Elsa introduces them to a jovially corrupt German border guard, Sgt. Ernst. Pike and Anna bribe him with his watch and her rings to get them across the border. Ernst gives Elsa one of the rings. Schack shows up at the minister's after Ernst and the couple have left for the border – he recognizes Anna's ring on Elsa’s finger and forces her to reveal where they have gone. Schack catches up at the border, but Ernst shoots him and arranges Schack’s body to make it look as if he had been killed while trying to escape himself.
Safely in Switzerland, Pike and Hedler are put in separate cars. Anna cries as they part, her first display of emotion in years.
James Garner as Major Jefferson Pike
Eva Marie Saint as Anna Hedler
Rod Taylor as Major Walter Gerber
Werner Peters as Otto Schack
John Banner as Ernst Furzen
Alan Napier as Colonel Peter MacLean
Ed Gilbert as Captain Abbott
Celia Lovsky as Elsa
Russell Thorson as General Allison
Oscar Beregi as Lt. Colonel Karl Ostermann
Sig Ruman as German Guard
Karl Held as Corporal Kenter
Runtime: 115 Minutes