(1941)4Dan FriedmanThe late Billy Wilder was often quoted as saying that the reason why he became a director was to prevent the scripts he was writing from being butchered. The film most often cited as the straw that broke the camel's back for him is Hold Back The Dawn, co-written by Wilder and his longtime partner Charles Brackett and directed by the veteran Mitchell Leisen. A bit of a tearjerker, the film captures the essence of the refugee experience in America, or the experience of refugees trying to reach America. Charles Boyer plays Georges, who has been stopped in Mexico by U.S. Immigration and who hopes to get into the country by marrying a U.S. citizen. He targets Emmy Brown, played by the great Olivia de Havilland, and naturally, over the course of putting his plan into action, develops genuine affection for her. Since Wilder was an immigrant himself, one can't help but wonder just how much of Georges struggles are personifying those that the writer experienced himself. Although Wilder's long-standing bone of contention was that Leisen was too carefree in letting the actors, particularly Boyer, alter lines in his precious script, objectively Leisen does a decent job of keeping the powerful emotions from slipping into outright melodrama. While the film does touch nerves, the emotions are genuine even though they are ostensibly conjured by an act of deceit and opportunism. Made as it was on the eve of America's entry into the Second World War, Hold Back The Dawn is an effective look at those whose appreciation of America is not taken for granted as their birthright.