At the Fine Arts
If "Open City" molds three-dimensional characterizations whose light, shadow, and substance help us penetrate into the emotions and consequent actions of man versus superman, "Jericho" sketches only a linear panorama of the French resistance movement that is further weakened by the incredibility of its story. The two films meet a similar problem: the presentation of the phase of the underground movement in Europe. But while the Italian masterpiece consciously sinks into the brine of brutality and resistance, the French offering floats at the surface, touching shores hardly long enough to establish any dramatic claims.
Starting at different points in what may be called an average French town, the camera momentarily touches various citizens and follows their movements as their lives interweave. The point of final convergence is at prison, where, as hostages, they are awaiting execution in reprisal for an action of the underground.
The individual portrayals are good, but the characters, in the few moments devoted to each one, are standard types: the patriots are staunch, tight-lipped, and unmoved, the German commander a thicknecked, bullet-headed remnant of the days of Von Stroheim's Junkers. The photography is excellent, but in the precarious position of being either documentary or drama or both, "Jericho" achieves at best an uncertain effect.