Based on a novel by William Woods and directed by Lewis Milestone, a Norwegian fishing village resists the Nazi occupation.
In October 1942 a German pilot sees a village with a Norwegian flag, and German troops arrive to find only the mad Kaspar Torgerson (Charles Dingle), whom they shoot. Captain Koenig (Helmut Dantine) has shot himself.
In the flashback Capt. Koenig says that 150 Germans are occupying a town of 800 Norwegians. The resistance has many leaders. Dr. Stensgard (Walter Huston) warns his daughter Karen (Ann Sheridan) about Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn), who is planning to sail to England after two years of occupation. Wounded Hammer is hidden by Gunnar, who cuts himself to explain the blood. Gunnar goes to Dr. Stensgard, and Karen brings Hammer, who says that the English will bring arms. Gunnar kisses Karen and says he will stay and fight. Karen asks her father to keep his brother-in-law Johann from coming because he betrayed Norwegians in Oslo. Dr. Stensgard asks Kaspar to keep his nephew Johann away.
In church Hammer tells how they fought the Germans in another town, and the women were killed. Gunnar asks for opinions on fighting, and the pastor says it is wrong; but most vote to fight. A British agent in a German uniform gives Gunnar and Karen instructions. Katja (Nancy Coleman) buys a suitcase with German money from Lar Malken (Roman Bohnen), who asks her to help them. Johann (John Beal) arrives to stay with the Stensgards. A German officer demands that Katja stay, but she asks the British agent to help her leave. Gerd (Judith Anderson) watches with Gunnar and Karen; she sees a boat, and boxes of guns are unloaded. Karen says that her brother Johann may betray them. Kaspar tells Johann that their cannery may be closed. Johann questions Malken, but the German search fails. The family accuses Johann, who says he wants to get out.
Germans forbid the use of all boats. Teacher Sixtus Andresen (Morris Carnovsky) tells an officer he will not give up his house. He is humiliated, and his books and things are burned. The pastor picks up Sixtus and carries him as the Norwegians sing. Karen is grabbed by a German. Gunnar invites Dr. Stensgard to the meeting, and his wife Anna (Ruth Gordon) persuades him to go. Karen arrives late beaten up. Gunnar prepares to fight in revenge, but she restrains him. Gunnar gives his plan, and they hear Churchill on the radio.
Sixtus kills a German with his cane and is caught. The leaders are to be shot and dig their graves. Norwegians arrive with guns, and Kaspar fails to stop them. In the battle people shoot from windows, and many are killed. A group walks to the boats, but they are shot. Norwegians take back the town and board the boats. Katja tries to speak to the Germans, but the officer kills her. Gunnar, Karen, and others advance, and Johann warns them of machine guns. In the battle the German headquarters are taken, and Koenig shoots himself.
The new Germans report that all on both sides are dead; but Gunnar, Karen, Dr. Stensgard, and others are in the woods to fight on. The voice of Franklin Roosevelt commends the Norwegians.
This realistic tale of resistance was propaganda for
the war effort, but it also reflects the dilemma faced by occupied
Norwegians and others who resisted the Nazi tyranny.