Undercover (1943 film)

Last updated

Undercover (1943 film)
Undercover FilmPoster.jpeg
2010 DVD release cover
Directed by Sergei Nolbandov
Screenplay by John Dighton
Monja Danischewsky
Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
Milosh Sekulich (uncredited)
Story by George Slocombe
Milosh Sekulich (uncredited)
Sergei Nolbandov (uncredited)
Produced by Michael Balcon
S. C. Balcon
Starring John Clements
Mary Morris
Michael Wilding
Stephen Murray
Tom Walls
Stanley Baker
Godfrey Tearle
Cinematography Wilkie Cooper
Edited byEileen Bolan
Music by Frederic Austin
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • 27 July 1943 (1943-07-27)(UK)
  • 14 September 1944 (1944-09-14)(US)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Undercover is a 1943 British war film produced by Ealing Studios, originally titled Chetnik. It was filmed in Wales and released on 27 July 1943. Its subject is a guerrilla movement in German-occupied Yugoslavia, loosely based on Draza Mihailovich's Chetnik resistance movement.


The film was produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Sergei Nolbandov. It stars John Clements, Mary Morris, and Stephen Murray, with Michael Wilding and 15-year-old Stanley Baker.

The film was released in the United States in 1944 by Columbia Pictures under the title Underground Guerrillas. It is similar to the 20th Century Fox wartime film Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943), made in the U.S.


The film is based on the Yugoslav resistance movement under the command of General Draza Mihailovich. But politics overtook the situation because Mihailovich and the Royalists were about to be abandoned by the British government - as parts of the Chetnik movement co-operated with the Nazis - in favour of the Communist and Stalinist leader Josip Broz Tito. Speaking in Parliament on 22 February 1944, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, said: "General Mihailovic, I much regret to say, drifted gradually into a position where his commanders made accommodations with Italian and German troops…" The screenplay, by John Dighton and Monja Danischewsky, was accordingly amended, and the film was re-edited. It ended up as a black and white war film, 80 minutes in length.


Two-page advert for the film in 17 July 1943 issue of Kinematograph Weekly, made by famous illustrator Eric Fraser. Undercover 1945 trade advert.jpg
Two-page advert for the film in 17 July 1943 issue of Kinematograph Weekly , made by famous illustrator Eric Fraser.

The film focuses on the fictional Petrovitch family in Belgrade, Serbia. One brother, Milosh, a Yugoslav military captain (John Clements) forms an anti-Nazi guerilla movement in the mountains of Serbia. His brother, Dr. Stephan Petrovitch (Stephen Murray), poses as a Nazi collaborator to obtain information for the guerrillas while working directly under General von Staengel (Godfrey Tearle), commander of the German occupation force.

Using information obtained by Stephan, Milosh and his guerrillas are able to ambush a German train and free Yugoslav PoWs, while wounding General Staengel in the process. Stephan operates on the wounded General, saving his life, and gaining the General's trust. Milosh's wife, Anna Petrovitch (Mary Morris), a schoolteacher, is taken prisoner and interrogated, but she escapes, with the help of some of her students, and joins Milosh in the mountains. In retaliation, German troops under Colonel von Brock (Robert Harris) execute six schoolchildren.

Later, Stephan uses his credentials as a Nazi sympathizer to plant explosives on a German train, timing them to go off in a mountain tunnel. The film's climax is a pitched battle between the Germans and guerrillas. Afterwards, the Serbians retreat into the mountains to continue their campaign of terror and resistance against Axis occupation.

1944 Columbia Pictures lobby card for the U.S. release as Underground Guerrillas. Underground Guerrillas 1944 lobby card.jpg
1944 Columbia Pictures lobby card for the U.S. release as Underground Guerrillas.


1944 U.S. release movie poster, Columbia Pictures. US 1944 film poster renamed Underground Guerrillas.JPG
1944 U.S. release movie poster, Columbia Pictures.



Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chetniks</span> WWII guerilla movement in Yugoslavia

The Chetniks, formally the Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army, and also the Yugoslav Army in the Homeland and the Ravna Gora Movement, was a Yugoslav royalist and Serbian nationalist movement and guerrilla force in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. Although it was not a homogeneous movement, it was led by Draža Mihailović. While it was anti-Axis in its long-term goals and engaged in marginal resistance activities for limited periods, it also engaged in tactical or selective collaboration with the occupying forces for almost all of the war. The Chetnik movement adopted a policy of collaboration with regard to the Axis, and engaged in cooperation to one degree or another by establishing modus vivendi or operating as "legalised" auxiliary forces under Axis control. Over a period of time, and in different parts of the country, the movement was progressively drawn into collaboration agreements: first with the puppet Government of National Salvation in the German-occupied territory of Serbia, then with the Italians in occupied Dalmatia and Montenegro, with some of the Ustaše forces in northern Bosnia, and, after the Italian capitulation in September 1943, with the Germans directly.

Draža Mihailović Supreme Chetnik leader during World War II

Dragoljub "Draža" Mihailović was a Yugoslav Serb general during World War II. He was the leader of the Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army (Chetniks), a royalist and nationalist movement and guerrilla force established following the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941.

Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation to propaganda, hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns. In many countries, resistance movements were sometimes also referred to as The Underground.

John Clements (actor) British actor

Sir John Selby Clements, CBE was a British actor and producer who worked in theatre, television and film.

Kragujevac massacre 1941 massacre by Nazi forces in Serbia

The Kragujevac massacre was the mass murder of between 2,778 and 2,794 mostly Serb men and boys in Kragujevac by German soldiers on 21 October 1941. It occurred in the German-occupied territory of Serbia during World War II, and came as a reprisal for insurgent attacks in the Gornji Milanovac district that resulted in the deaths of ten German soldiers and the wounding of 26 others. The number of hostages to be shot was calculated as a ratio of 100 hostages executed for every German soldier killed and 50 hostages executed for every German soldier wounded, a formula devised by Adolf Hitler with the intent of suppressing anti-Nazi resistance in Eastern Europe.

Shepperd Strudwick American actor of the 20th century

Shepperd Strudwick was an American actor of film, television, and stage. He was also billed as John Shepperd for some of his films and for his acting on stage in New York.

Trial of Mihailović <i>et al.</i>

The Trial of Draža Mihailović et al., or the Belgrade Process, was the 1946 trial of Draža Mihailović and a number of other prominent convicted collaborators for high treason and war crimes committed during World War II.

Louis V. Arco Austrian actor

Louis V. Arco was an Austrian stage and film actor whose career began in the late 1910s.

Milan Aćimović

Milan Aćimović was a Yugoslav politician and collaborationist with the Axis in Yugoslavia during World War II.

Kosta Pećanac Serbian Chetnik commander (1903–1944)

Konstantin "Kosta" Milovanović Pećanac was a Serbian and Yugoslav Chetnik commander (vojvoda) during the Balkan Wars, World War I and World War II. Pećanac fought on the Serbian side in both Balkan Wars and World War I, joining the forces of Kosta Vojinović during the Toplica uprising of 1917. Between the wars he was an important leader of Chetnik veteran associations, and was known for his strong hostility to the Yugoslav Communist Party, which made him popular in conservative circles. As president of the Chetnik Association during the 1930s, he transformed it into an aggressively partisan Serb political organisation with over half a million members. During World War II, Pećanac collaborated with both the German military administration and their puppet government in the German-occupied territory of Serbia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dušan Simović</span> Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, 1940-41

Dušan Simović was a Yugoslav Serb army general who served as Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Yugoslav Army and as the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia in 1940–1941.

<i>Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas</i> 1943 film by Louis King

Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas is a war film made by Twentieth Century Fox in 1943. The film starred Philip Dorn, Anna Sten, and Martin Kosleck.

Operation Mihailovic

Operation Mihailovic was the final World War II German anti-guerrilla offensive to suppress the Serbian Chetnik detachments of the Yugoslav Army, headed by Colonel Dragoljub Mihailović. The offensive took place from 4 to 9 December 1941 near Šumadija, in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia.

The Operation Kopaonik was a large-scale Axis offensive launched against the Mihailović's Chetniks in Axis occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. The operation was inspired by Heinrich Himmler who believed that the annihilation of Draža Mihailović and his forces was a basis for a success in Serbia and South East Europe. Since Dragutin Keserović and his Rasina Corps was probably the most active commander of Mihailovićs Chetniks in Serbia, the newly established 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen was engaged to participate in Operation Kopaonik to destroy Keserović and Chetnik unit under his command.

Ships with Wings is a 1941 British war film directed by Sergei Nolbandov and starring John Clements, Leslie Banks and Jane Baxter. The film is set during the Battle of Greece (1940-1941). It depicts military aviation.

Dragutin Keserović WWII Yugoslav Chetnik leader

Dragutin Keserović was a Yugoslav Chetnik military commander holding the rank of lieutenant colonel and vojvoda during World War II. Keserović was probably the most active commander of Mihailović's Chetniks in Serbia.

Ruth Mitchell American reporter and Serbian Chetnik

Ruth Mitchell was a reporter who was the only American woman to serve with the Serbian Chetnik under Draža Mihailović in World War II. She was captured by the Gestapo and spent a year as a prisoner of war, later writing a book about her experiences. She also wrote a book about one of her brothers, General Billy Mitchell, who is regarded as the founder of the U.S. Air Force.

Stanley William Bailey was a British Army officer in World War II, who reached the rank of colonel and was most notable for being the head and then political advisor of the British Special Operations Executive Liaison Mission to the Chetnik Forces of Draža Mihailović from December 25, 1942—January 29, 1944. British policy toward Mihailović was shaped by the regular reports from Bailey. Bailey's position on General Mihailović was influential in undermining the relationship between Mihailović and the Chetniks with Churchill and the British Foreign Office, and consequently with the other Allied nations.

Chetnik sabotage of Axis communication lines

The Chetnik sabotage of Axis communication lines was campaign of Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland sabotage of Axis communication lines, mostly along the rivers Morava, Vardar and Danube, to obstruct transport of German war material through Serbia to Thessaloniki and further to Libya during Western Desert campaign. The Chetnik sabotages were organized since 31 April, or according to some sources since July or early August 1942.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Attack on Šabac</span>

The Attack on Šabac was attack of the united rebel forces of the Chetniks, forces of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and Pećanac Chetniks against German forces garrisoned in Šabac in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia in period between 21—26 September 1941, during the Uprising in Serbia.