Released one day before G. W. Pabst's Es Gescham am 20 Juli, Der 20 Juli was one of two concurrently produced German films dealing with a 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler. As in the Pabst film, the protagonist is Oberst Graf von Staufenberg, here played by Wolfgang Priess. In semi-documentary fashion, director Falk Harnack recounts the growing disaffection between Hitler and his military staff, culminating in Von Staufenberg's decision to assassinate Der Fuhrer and stage a coup. Curiously, Harnack's Von Staufenberg wears his trademarked eyepatch over his left eye, while Pabst's version of the character wears the patch over the right eye. It hardly matters, since history records that Von Staufenberg failed in his attempt, sparking a series of sham trials and thousands of brutal executions. Of the two "July 20" films, Pabst's is the better all-around production, while Harnack's is the more thorough so far as explaining Von Staufenberg's motives.
by Hal Erickson synopsis