The Coward's Escape
Sergeant-Major Charles Coward (Dirk Bogarde) like many other soldiers during WWII has found himself captured by the Nazis and placed in a prisoner of war camp. And like any good soldier he will do what ever he can to be a nuisance to the enemy from starting fires, being awkward and of course trying to escape every which way he can. His various escapes and position within the camp also puts him in danger as senior German's try to manipulate him to turn traitor.
The trouble with being a Brit whose childhood fell during the 70s and 80s is that I watched "The Great Escape" probably a couple of times a year or basically when ever it was repeated on TV be it Christmas or Easter and as such every prisoner of war movie which I have watched since I have ended up comparing them to it. So whilst "The Password Is Courage" was released the year before "The Great Escape" I couldn't help but note all the similarities and in a way this works well as a pretty decent companion movie with a smaller focus but with plenty of events and a certain amount of "sticking it to them" humour.
As such what you get in "The Password Is Courage" is a glimpse at the various escapades which Charles Coward got up to after becoming a prisoner of war, from making a dash for it to a farmhouse whilst being marched across country to being part of a tunnel digging team when he is in a prisoner of war camp. And whilst some of these escapades have some drama, such as a claustrophobic tunnel cave in scene, many of the scenes end up with Coward getting the last laugh from eating Nazi food whilst pretending to be a wounded soldier to watching a German soldier sink into the ground when he walks over where a tunnel has been dug. It is the humorous elements of "The Password Is Courage" which helps to make it be more than just another prisoner of war movie even if it is based on the biography of the actual Charles Coward.
Aside from some familiar, some not so familiar prisoner of war elements as well as the humour "The Password Is Courage" owes a lot to Dirk Bogarde as he channels his cheeky side so that every time Charles gets one of the enemy, no matter how small it is, you know there will be that cheeky smile at the end of it. And Bogarde works particular well with Alfred Lynch who in many ways delivers a similar performance with that cheeky smile making him entertaining in the buddy role.
What this all boils down to is that whilst there is plenty in "The Password Is Courage" which will feel familiar to fans of prisoner of war movies it has enough other stuff be it the humour or some of the escapades to make it entertaining in its own right.