Judith In Palestine in 1948, the British prepare to end their Mandate, leaving an independent Israel behind. The problems of the British may be ending but for the new state of Israel they’re just beginning. Israel is surrounded by hostile Arab nations and must fight to defend itself from aggression. The Israeli defense force, the Haganah, has received intelligence that Arab forces, Syria in particular, are employing former German Panzer commander General Gustav Schiller to train them in tank tactics against Israel. The Israelis also learn that General Schiller’s wife, Judith Auerbach Schiller, is a Jewish woman who was betrayed by her husband and was left to die in a concentration camp. Judith has survived the camp and is searching for her husband to exact revenge and to locate their son. The Haganah decides to find Judith and use her knowledge in order to locate the general, positively identify him and make him reveal the Syrian attack plans.
A better version of ‘Exodus’ with less bias and more humanity.
Sophia Loren has been described as miscast in this role, but that doesn’t diminish her acting qualities. She is always superb and no less here than in any other of her films. It’s true, her make-up and hair style, eye mascara and sometimes overwhelming sex appeal might seem a little out of place for a concentration camp veteran with a past as a German officer’s s fling bent only revenge in extreme bitterness dominating all her life, but Sophia Loren manages it. Although she is as flamboyant a character as she is, she makes even this ruin of a girl a convincing character.
Peter Finch is equally good and as perfect as ever, while Jack Hawkins as the major approaching the end of the line gives the film the one soft touch it needs to become supremely interesting.
Saul Kaplan’s music is also very adequate, actually vying with the “Exodus” theme sometimes, so there is nothing wrong with this film. On the contrary, it is underrated and as a human drama much more interesting and engaging than “Exodus”, and Peter Finch is more convincing than Paul Newman.