36 Hours (1964) James Garner WW2 Nazi Mind Control For D-Day Info

One of the biggest secrets of 1944 was the creation of a planned full assault invasion of German occupied Western Europe. An operation that would include hundreds of thousands of troops. To strike a hammer blow against the axis of evil that was Adolf Hitler and his Nazi forces. The 5th of June was put a side for D-Day the top secret Normandy landings and the beginning of the invasion. This enormously important mission would go under the code-name Operation Overlord. Five coastal strike points had been calculated to achieve such a gargantuan undertaking. America was assigned to land at sectors code-named Utah and Omaha, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. A task so immense that it needed the utmost secrecy to accomplish. A map was designed for the planning room to coordinate the operations. This map and the mission’s secrecy were of the highest top level importance.

Tagline – The Wildest Spy Adventure A Man Ever Lived!

With so much at stake it was beyond imperative that the plans be kept at highest grade top secret protection. On the 31st of May the leaders of the war strike knew only to well that spies were rife through-out. It would only be a matter of time before high ranking officials would be under attack. A plan was devised knowing that their objective would be cracked. With less than a week to go for the set invasion date, General Allison (Russell Thorson) and Colonel Peter Maclean (Alan Napier) brought together their plan….. One man, Major Jefferson Pike!!

They knew Major Jefferson Pike (James Garner) had a good connection in Lisbon. They knew a genuine spy would no doubt sell the arrival of the Major’s special trip to Lisbon. Leading to a chance for the German’s to snatch him up. To interrogate their prisoner for the details of the invasion plan. A plan that Major Pike had now seen. However the General and the Colonel knew full well that the Major Pike was tough. Unbreakable! If he could last out a few days under intense interrogation it would keep the German’s busy. To keep them guessing as the Allies drew close to implementing their grand invasion.

Colonel Peter Maclean –I bet my bottom dollar you’d keep quiet Jeff!Major Jefferson Pike –Ha thanks Mac. Don’t bet too much on it! I’ve never had my ear used as an ashtray!

On the 1st of June Major Pike arrives in Lisbon ready to tell the informant that the Allies plan to land at the French port of Calais. Hoping that it would attract German reinforcements to fortify the area leaving Normandy less guarded. This was the moment when the Major was drugged, abducted and transported to Germany.

He awakes within a U.S. Army hospital. Something feels odd. His eyes are slightly out of focus. He finds he needs glasses. Looking in the mirror he’s shocked to see his hair has started to turn grey. That’s bizarre! He looked older! This is when Psychiatrist Major Walter Gerber (Rod Taylor) and Nurse Anna Hedler (Eva Marie Saint) enter the room. He says he’s an old friend. Major Pike doesn’t remember him. Visibly shaken he’s informed that he’s in post-war occupied Germany. The war had been won by the Allies. The date is May 1950! After being tortured in Lisbon he’d lost 6 years of his memory. The bastards! Fragments would return but for now he was being cared for with therapy sessions. Helping to ease him back to his former self. The psychiatrist informs him that anything he can recall from the day of his abduction would vastly help speed up his recovery. Could he recall any critical details of the invasion plans? Of course now the Normandy Landings were not a secret 6 years on!!

Tagline –Give Me Any American for 36 Hours And I’ll Give You Back a Traitor!

36 Hours plays out like an episode from Patrick McGoohan’s secret agent abduction series The Prisoner. What kind of evil mind tricks and torture will they go with? Psychiatrist Gerber has perfected the ultimate way to extract information using his scientific tried and tested mind tricks rather than brute force. He prides himself with his almost humane practices. He always gets results. He’s confident he will get the information needed. Just give him time, 36 hours, let him work his magic. SS Agent Otto Schack (Werner Peters) is close by, waiting. If results aren’t achieved soon he is ordered to conduct his own, dare I say, more traditional ways of recovering information.

From uniforms featuring United Allied Forces badges to the hospital camp filled with American soldiers. Men play baseball in the garden grounds. A gardener rakes up leaves. Fake newspapers with headlines from back home announce political stories. Letters and radio broadcasts are detailed to help convince with this carefully laid out plan. How is Major Pike going to manage to keep it together? Will he be able to see through the deception and ultimately keep the precious sensitive secrets safe? A secret that has 100’s of thousands of lives connected to it.

What’s brilliant about 36 Hours is the way it all plays out. It’s beautifully written. Of course reading about it you know it’s a made up story, an unbelievable turn of events that shouldn’t really work in this world war two drama. However it’s also extremely well acted out. There’s lots of twists and turns. It’s also doesn’t all go to plan like you think it would. If you know the actually date of the D-Day landing you might guess it but still it’s doesn’t lose the power within the story. It’s more than the sum of it’s parts. There’s a few other powerful deep moments and I’ll leave you with this line.

Major Pike –Can’t you cry?Nurse Anna –I’ve used up all my tears!

A few random things

  • 36 Hours is directed by George Seaton who was also a great screenwriter. His big seasonal film is the Maureen O’Hara and John Payne Christmas film Miracle On 34th Street (1947).
  • The film is said to be based on a Roald Dahl short story that was published in Harper’s Magazine and called “Beware Of The Dog“. On further reading it might transpire that it could of been a case of accidental plagiarism. The inclusion of the based on Roald Dahl story credit sounds like, from reading, that it may of been more to cover themselves. As the 36 Hours story is credited to both writers Carl K. Hittleman and Luis H. Vance with the screenwriting duties going to the director George Seaton.
  • Episode 3 from the first season of the 60s series Mission Impossible is called Operation Rogosh and is inspired by 36 Hours. I watch it last night. It’s really good. It’s on Vimeo here at time of writing.
  • Also two episodes of Star Trek used the 36 Hours baseline story for Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Episode 8 Future Imperfect and Star Trek: Enterprise Season 3 Episode 14 Stratagem.
  • I got to see the original D-Day Landing planning Map five years ago. With a guided tour at Southwick House in Portsmouth. There’s a brilliant little story that goes with it. Well maybe not for the carpenter at the time. For the wooden map was made like a jigsaw puzzle in separate pieces by a toy manufacturer. A carpenter was assigned to reassemble all the parts on the wall. On completion he was instantly then detained at the house. Loose lips sink ships and that top secret map was not going to be the tale at the local pub over a few beers. You can read more here on an inews article.

Wrapping it up

I thought 36 Hours to be a brilliant film. A well written piece of fiction mixed with facts. It’s cleverly told and where it should sound fantastical and way out there in fact it’s story is told extremely well. Helped immensely by the three main superbly acted cast members, James Garner, Eva Marie Saint and Rod Taylor. It could of easily gone for a quirky tale and really gone off the rails. It’s great to say it keeps it’s feet firmly on the ground and delivers a very thoughtful drama. Well worth your time if you fancy a war story with a different take.

Have you seen this one? Feel free to let me know your thoughts, good or bad, it doesn’t matter to me.

Thanks for having a read

Mikey Wolf

PS here’s a great little promo poster art work.

14 thoughts on “36 Hours (1964) James Garner WW2 Nazi Mind Control For D-Day Info

  1. Love both Garner and Rod Taylor and I reckon from your write-up I’d love this film too. Anyone that had a hand in making the classic MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) has already won my heart.

    P.s That’s a hell of a slap at 1 minute 20 seconds!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for reminding me of this film, Mikey. I saw it years ago and was impressed. I’m a James Garner fan–mainly from The Rockford Files–and I had never heard of it. Very underrated, I think. I love the spy/espionage/thriller mashup. Marathon Man, Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, North by Northwest…oh, yeah, Boys From Brazil. I love that one, too…Wonderful review.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so good Pam. Great to hear you have seen it too. I’d never heard of it and was very impressed with it.
      The Rockford Files was apart of growing up. Funny story my Dad was in construction and I used to go to work with him through the summer when I was six or seven. One of the truck drivers looked like James Garner and they called him Jim. He lived in a caravan too. For many years I really thought it was Rockford LOL… He drove a Leyland fg 350 lorry with windows in the footwells. So there I was sat in the footwell with my face glued to the window. Hey it was the 70s. What was safely?

      I love all those films you mention Pam. With the Boys From Brazil being the one I really need to see again soon. Thank you as always.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been interested in this for years. I was hoping you were going to tell me it’s up on Youtube! Never mind.

    Oddly enough, I think I’ve seen a TV movie remake with, I think, Corbin Bernsen. Wasn’t very good. Can’t remember why exactly, because the premise is strong and the original has a good rep.

    I didn’t know you could visit Southwick House and I love the D-Day map. Is it only open for special events? Is there much else to see there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s really good Jay. Well worth your time.
      You could try “36 hours 1964 ok(dot)ru” in google if you wanna stream it.

      Didn’t know the TV movie version. Will investigate. Thanks.

      I used to be a active member of Subterranea Britannica and they’d always get excellent events to go to. Portland Rotor Bunker had always been a dream visit. Couldn’t believe I ever get to go down there.

      The Southwick House visit had some great talks and chats about it. I think they do the occasional open day. Be worth a look when things get back to normal. The map is of course the money shot but there is also a small but decent Royal Military Police Museum inside the army camp grounds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the link! I see it’s also on archive.org.

        I guess you can’t watch these things on your telly, it has to be on a computer or a tablet?

        The Rotor bunker looks impressive and SB looks interesting. I like these secret underground places, but I like it even more when they look all spiffing and pristine. Have you been to Dover Castle? They have the wartime tunnels there with big maps and old telephones and stuff. Really good.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I always forget about archive.org. Such a brilliant site for historic stuff. Incredible in fact.

          I watch most films on my PC in my backroom. Connected to 40 inch telly and rigged up to my four speaker stereo system. Netflix and telly stuff I watch in the front room with missus and family. Got a soundbar for extra boost there but yeah no streaming links on the telly.

          The Portland one was a fabled bunker we thought we’d never see. The MOD trashed it, then sold it, it caught fire a few times, had copper thieves and then a petting farm bought it and welded up the doors. It was in 2013 that the sub brit group managed to swing a deal for a one off cash payment of tickets to go down there. Me and my mate stayed down there all day mucking about. lol. Yeah it’s trashed but it’s exactly how we like them. These are my photos from the trip if you were interested.

          Portland CEW R1 ROTOR Radar Station

          York bunker is pretty pristine. You’ll like that one for sure. Telephones, beds and map room etc.

          York Cold War Nuclear Bunker

          I’ve not been to Dover Castle but it was on the plan to go. Lost my partner in crime and kind of stopped doing it. Will one day get there though as I know I’d love it. It’s a fair round trip but one day I hope to be over that way. 🙂
          Thanks for recommend Jay

          Liked by 1 person

          • Love the pics! The rotor bunker looks huge. The York bunker looks good as well. I nearly went to that one when we were staying in Yorkshire, but it turned out to be shut on Saturdays or something. The bunker is surprisingly obvious from the outside. I thought it might be more hidden. There is one in Essex thats hidden inside a house.

            Do you know the Maunsell Forts in the Thames Estuary? I only learned about them a couple of years ago and would really like to see them. You have to go on a boat trip, obviously, so it’s too much for a day trip from here. Will have to try and think of something else to combine it with.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I do know of the Maunsell Forts and especially Rough Sands and The Principality Of Sealand story which is the amazing. What a crazy thing to do. Brilliant.
              The other ones in a cluster look proper strange don’t they. Alien! I’d love to get a boat out to them but not sure I’d like to actually go on one! I’d go straight through the floor or sure!!
              What part of the country are you from Jay? Apologises if you have already told me.

              I’m pretty sure the Essex one with the house is Kelvedon Hatch. That has to be one of the best ones to go to. It’s spectacular if you like stuff like that. The tunnel leading to bunker through the house is crazy. It’s got three floors. They’ve collected hundreds of old computers, not originally from the bunker but look so cool when you walk into the room. I got photos from there and lots of other place but not got round to uploading them.

              Haha yes you so right on the York one. It’s just sticking out like a sore thumb. Wheres the secret bunker? Oh there it is.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I know it’s childish but I’m always amused by those tourist signs saying “This Way for the Secret Nuclear Bunker”!

                Rough Sands was a navy fort as I remember it. I think there’s another one as well. They’re like giant platforms. The ones on stilts were army ones. There are two of those plus a third that was demolished because ships kept hitting it.

                The army ones look completely steampunk. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw pictures – I was like, why don’t I know about these?? Imagine being a squaddie based on one of those stuck on a small sandbank in the middle of the ocean!

                You used to be able to go onto them, but they’ve removed the ladders to discourage people because they’re falling to bits now. There were walkways between them as well to link them up. There’s a project to maintain and restore one but the location and the working conditions are so awkward that it’s probably not practical and they’ll just fall apart over time.

                I’m living in Cambs at the moment. It probably is doable in a day just about, but I’d prefer to stay for a few days and combine it with something else.


  4. Way behind in my review-reading and commenting, Mikey…sorry about that! I’ve heard of 36 Hours, but have never seen it…but now I really want to. I found the entire first season of The Prisoner on-line, and I’ve started watching for the first time…I can see where 36 Hours would be similar!

    Watched The Rockford Files with my Dad as well, back in the ’70s. I got him the DVD sets, and now I have them to watch at my leisure…about an episode a month. Still a lot of fun. Oh yeah…love that promo poster artwork…Eva Marie is looking quite hot, I must say!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Todd no way bro I’m always fascinated you come back to read this stuff! It’s amazing in fact LOL.
      So defo no need to apologise. Gotta say I’m excited to hear you’ve jumped into The Prisoner world. So brilliant in my eyes.
      Patrick McGoohan makes for a great agent to be stuck on that looney island. He gives them what for with his wit and manner. Each time they get him near to breaking point he’s back at them ready for the next day of crazy shit. Love that show.

      I watched 36 Hours on a friendly soviet site if you fancy it. It’s really very good.
      So cool you revisiting Rockford and his files. Great memories I bet from watching them with you Dad.
      Nice treat to drop into once in while at your leisure. I’m trying to do that myself with certain old series. Rather than race in and smash through loads, I’m trying to learn to just watch one here and there. Like a treat.

      “Be seeing you” 🙂


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