'We've been betrayed,' snarls the bedraggled soldier, arriving with news of Sedan and the surrender to the Prussians. But for 1870, read 1940. This was hustled into production after the Liberation and while the war was still in progress, an instant response to the trauma of defeat and occupation. Two de Maupassant stories are harnessed together for an account of a coach journey across a landscape dominated by fear, compromise and humiliation. With its not very hidden agenda the film can only elicit concern for its characters as representative types rather than individuals. But the moral climax is exemplary, with plucky hooker Presle spitting on a Prussian cur - no genteel miming of the act, either, but a great messy oyster, delivered full face. You can even now sense the straining towards catharsis, and if the film's first audiences were still capable of cheering, then cheer they probably did.