Le Silence de la Mer was based upon a popular wartime "underground" novel by Vercours. Most of the film is confined to the living room of a bourgeois French family. Howard Vernon plays Von Ebrennae, a cultured Nazi officer who is billeted in this household. As the residents stare at him in mute contempt, Von Ebrennae eloquently articulates his philosophy of life, which turns out to be pretty odious at times. Director Jean-Pierre Melville assembled La Silence de la Mer outside the established French film industry, using a non-union cast and crew and adapting the Vercours novel without securing the movie rights. Though it was much too verbose and cerebral for American viewers, the film proved most influential in shaping the future works of such directors as Robert Bresson and Alain Resnais.
by Hal Erickson synopsis