“Reign of Terror” is a 1949 American film directed by Anthony Mann and starring Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, and Arlene Dahl. The movie is set during the French Revolution and follows the story of a man named Charles D’Aubigny (Robert Cummings) who is sent to France to retrieve a list of counter-revolutionaries.
The film opens with Maximilien Robespierre (Richard Basehart), the leader of the Committee of Public Safety, executing a fellow revolutionary for being a counter-revolutionary. D’Aubigny, who is working for the French government, arrives in Paris and meets with his contact, Madelon (Arlene Dahl). She reveals to him that the list of counter-revolutionaries has been stolen and is now in the possession of Citizen Fouquet (Arnold Moss).
D’Aubigny sets out to find Fouquet and retrieve the list, but he soon discovers that Robespierre and his allies are using the list to eliminate anyone they suspect of opposing the Revolution. D’Aubigny is forced to go into hiding, but he continues to work with Madelon and other members of the underground resistance to bring down Robespierre.
As the Reign of Terror intensifies, D’Aubigny and his allies must navigate a dangerous web of intrigue and betrayal. They are aided by the enigmatic Madelon, who has her own reasons for opposing Robespierre. Eventually, D’Aubigny is able to obtain the list and use it to bring down Robespierre and his allies.
The film ends with D’Aubigny and Madelon watching as Robespierre is led to the guillotine. They realize that the Revolution has descended into tyranny, but they also know that their work is not yet done. The film closes with a quote from Robespierre: “Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country.”
Philip Yordan, Æneas MacKenzie
Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, Richard Hart