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Desperate Moment (1953)

Simon Van Halder (Sir Dirk Bogarde) is accused of murdering a British soldier during post-World War II mayhem. His girlfriend works on his behalf to expose the true villain.


Compton Bennett


Martha Albrand (novel), George H. Brown (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dirk Bogarde ... Simon Van Halder
Mai Zetterling ... Anna DeBurg
Philip Friend ... Capt. Bob Sawyer
Albert Lieven ... Paul Ravitch, alias Schleger
Fritz Wendhausen Fritz Wendhausen ... Warder Goeter (as Frederick Wendhausen)
Carl Jaffe Carl Jaffe ... Cellblock Guard Becker
Gerard Heinz ... German Prison Doctor
André Mikhelson André Mikhelson ... Polizei Inspector
Harold Ayer ... Capt. Trevor Wood, U.S. Army
Walter Gotell ... Ravitch's Servant-Henchman
Friedrich Joloff Friedrich Joloff ... Valentin Vladek, alias Winter
Simone Silva Simone Silva ... Mink, Valentin's girl
Ferdy Mayne ... Detective Laurence
Walter Rilla ... Col. Bertrand, Dutch consulate
Antonio Gallardo Antonio Gallardo ... Spanish Dancer


In post-world-war II Germany, Dutchman Simon Van Halder (Sir Dirk Bogarde) is accused of killing a British soldier. Although he confessed to the murder in order to obtain penicillin for his illness, Simon is innocent. During the final days of the war, Simon and three other men tried to steal penicillin, from a British Army outpost, for sale on the black market. During the robbery, a British guard got killed. Simon was captured and he initially refused to incriminate himself. However, Simon's accomplices told him that his girlfriend, Anna DeBurg (Mai Zetterling), died. With nothing to lose, Simon agreed to falsely confess to the murder of the British soldier in order to save the others, and also to receive antibiotics for his illness. The military authorities convict him and sentence him to life in prison. During his transport by train to a central prison, Simon tries to escape. His escape fails and he ends up in the prison hospital where he recovers from his illness. While ... Written by nufs68

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BERLIN TO DAY! The most Exciting city in the world See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller | War


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Release Date:

1 August 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Momento de Desespero See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Excellent post-war suspense drama
1 September 2015 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This is an engaging and generally well-made drama, much of which is filmed on location in the ruins of bombed-out postwar Hamburg. The extensive photography of those ruins in this film thus has a significant historical value in itself. The story is based upon the novel of the same title by Martha Albrand (1910-1981), which was published in 1951. It concerns a young Dutch citizen played by Dirk Bogarde (an interesting irony here, since Bogarde is by origin a Dutch surname, and this presumably applies to Humphrey Bogart as well) who has been tricked into confessing to a murder he did not commit after escaping from a POW camp. The film begins just after he has been condemned to life in prison. He believes that the girl named Anna DeBurg whom he had desperately loved is dead. However, she unexpectedly visits him in prison and he freaks out, barely able to believe his eyes. A long and complex tale then ensues after he escapes from prison and, with Anna's help, tries to find the witnesses who can prove that he did not commit the murder. But just before he gets to two of them, they are each mysteriously killed a few hours earlier. It becomes clear that there is a conspiracy of some kind, and that he has been 'set up' by the man who lied to him and by telling him Anna was dead. Anna is played by the Swedish actress Mai Zetterling, who had long before taken up residence in Britain and become a British star. Bogarde and Zetterling are both very good at dramatically hugging one another in a slightly histrionic manner, but, as both of them were gay, there is little real 'zing' between them. In some aspects, the film is a bit corny, but it is entertaining and well made, and the story with its twists and turns holds one's attention.

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