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This Land Is Mine
This Land Is Mine (1943 poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJean Renoir
Screenplay byDudley Nichols
Produced byDudley Nichols
StarringCharles Laughton
Maureen O'Hara
George Sanders
CinematographyFrank Redman
Edited byFrederic Knudtson
Music byLothar Perl
Friedrich Silcher
Jean-Renoir-Dudly Nichols Productions
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • May 7, 1943 (1943-05-07)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.4 million (US rentals)[1]

This Land Is Mine is a 1943 American war drama film directed by Jean Renoir and written and produced by Dudley Nichols. Starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara and George Sanders,[2] the film is set in the midst of World War II in an unspecified place in German-occupied Europe that appears similar to France. Laughton plays Albert Lory, a cowardly school teacher in a town "somewhere in Europe" who is drawn into advocating resistance through his love of his country and of his fellow teacher Louise Martin, portrayed by O'Hara.

The film is one of the more acclaimed of the war films of the era. It won the 1944 Academy Award for Best Sound Recording (Stephen Dunn).[3] Having opened simultaneously in 72 theaters, the film set a record for gross receipts on an opening day upon its release on May 7, 1943.


Albert is an unmarried schoolmaster living with his dominating mother and secretly in love with his neighbour and fellow teacher Louise. Widely regarded as ineffectual, he embarrasses everybody by his panic during an Allied air raid. However, Louise is engaged to George, the head of the railway yard, who, like many in the town, believes that collaboration with the German occupation is the only logical course.

Her brother Paul, who works in the yard, is an active resister and, trying to kill the German commandant Major von Keller with a grenade, instead kills two German soldiers. After turning a blind eye to previous acts of resistance (such as a wrecked train) in the hope of preserving good relations with the town, von Keller must now act and takes 10 local hostages, saying they will be shot in a week if the guilty person who threw the grenade is not found. Albert's mother, jealous of Louise, tells George that it was Paul. George tells von Keller and then, in a crisis of conscience, shoots himself. Albert bursts in a minute later, furious at discovering his mother's treachery, and is found with George's corpse and gun.

Regarding it as a matter for the civilian courts, the Germans expect Albert to be condemned. When in his defense he starts an impassioned plea for resistance, the prosecutor requests an adjournment. That night, von Keller comes to his cell and offers a deal: If he will keep quiet next day, new forged evidence will acquit him. To emphasize the point, in the morning the 10 hostages (including his friend Professor Sorel) are shot beneath his window. Back in court, Albert is all the more eloquent in the cause of liberty and the jurors proclaim him innocent. Freed and back in his schoolroom, with a proud Louise by his side, he is reading to the boys the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen when German soldiers come to take him away.[4]



Though the prime purpose of the film is propaganda to strengthen Allied resolve in the fight against Nazism, critics at the time and since have noted that Nichols and Renoir adopt a distinctively nuanced approach. The Germans, with von Keller an eloquent advocate of the advantages for Europe of Nazi rule, are not shown as mere brutes. Nor are the French, apart from the few mental or physical resisters, shown as heroes battling tyranny. Instead, some readings suggest that, as in Renoir's previous films La Grande Illusion and La Règle du Jeu, class may be more significant than race or nationality. For example, James Morrison[5] cites how the film blames the bourgeoisie, a few left-wing intellectuals excepted, for letting Hitler into power in 1933, for surrendering France in 1940 and for collaborating actively or passively.

This stance was confirmed by Renoir shortly after the film came out when, in a speech, he asserted that his recent films "breathed this breath of anti-Fascism" and were rooted in the experience of the Popular Front of 1936, which was "a magnificent exposition of human brotherhood".[6]


In 1998, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader included the film in his unranked list of the best American films not included on the AFI Top 100.[7]


  1. ^ "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  2. ^ "This Land Is Mine". BFI. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12.
  3. ^ "The 16th Academy Awards (1944) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-14.
  4. ^ Reel Men at War: Masculinity and the American War Film. Ralph Donald, Karen MacDonald. Scarecrow Press, 2011. P 247
  5. ^ Morrison, James (1996), "Representing Nationality in "This Land Is Mine"", MLN 111 (5), Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 954–75, JSTOR 3251254
  6. ^ Faulkner, Christopher (1996), "Jean Renoir Addresses the League of American Writers", Film History 8 (1), Indiana University Press, pp. 64–71, JSTOR 3815216
  7. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (June 25, 1998). "List-o-Mania: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love American Movies". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on April 13, 2020.