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FredCDobbs

?The Mortal Storm?....

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This is an interesting movie, released in 1940, but the use of all the popular young American actors makes it seem a little silly to me. I just can?t work myself up to be afraid of Robert Young or Robert Stack or Dan Dailey.

 

I can understand why they filmed it this way, since the year was 1940. They apparently wanted to show what it would be like if ?typical young Americans? suddenly began to grow ?crazy? like what was happening with the German youth at that time.

 

Gradually Hollywood used more real Germans and other foreign actors to play the Nazis, and to me those films are more frightening. And also Hollywood began using the nice looking American actors as the heroes of the films.

 

Here are real Germans singing the song that the American actors sang in the bar scene early in the film:

 

 

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Early Monday morning, at 2 AM Eastern Time, we can see the 1943 German version of ?Titanic?, which is a rare treat. It was released just 3 years after ?The Mortal Storm?, but it was made by an all-German cast and crew, during WW II.

 

What impressed me about this film is that the German actors who played all the English people on the Titanic, were really harsh and gruff when they spoke. They sounded just like Germans and not at all like English people.

 

If you watch ?M?, a German film from 1931, 2 years before Hitler came to power, you?ll notice that the head criminal at the ?trial? of Peter Lorre, is a rough gruff guy who wears a long style leather coat, like the Nazis wore in the late ?30s, and this guy (and some of the other people in the film) talk just like Nazis, although this was before the Nazi era. What that tells me is that this gruff way of talking was COMMON in old Germany, long before the Nazis came to power.

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IMHO The Mortal Storm & Three Comrades, both directed by Frank Borzage, are two of the finest films ever made .

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I like the film too. But I?ve seen it several times during the past 30 years, while I?ve also seen Ward Bond, Robert Young, Robert Stack, and Dan Dailey being nice guys in so many films, I just can no longer imagine them as being mean Nazis. For me, it would be like having Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland playing Nazis.

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Mickey and Judy as Nazis. What a crazy idea, it would never get off the...say

wait one minute..hold it...now just think about it...no really...now get this...Mickey

and Judy in The Joseph Goebbels Story...yeah I can see it now...Mickey's a short

little squirt, just like Goebbels...and there's the wife, Magda...yeah, and they had a

whole passel of kids..a part for Margaret O'Brien...Goebbels, now he ran a pretty

busy casting couch, didn't he?...well, there's some parts for the ingenues...art imitating

life...at the finale they put on a Wagner opera...great...get all the cast together in a

barn...somebody has a piano...no, don't need a piano, just the piano wire...okay, this

could be dynamite...now start writing this down...opening scene, Berlin 1936, Albert

Speer's office...

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> I like the film too. But Ive seen it several times during the past 30 years, while Ive also seen Ward Bond, Robert Young, Robert Stack, and Dan Dailey being nice guys in so many films, I just can no longer imagine them as being mean Nazis.

 

I think that was the point Mr. Mayer was trying to put across when he wanted this film made, that it was the German equivalent of 'just nice folks' that were being suckered into the Nazi party line.

 

Interesting to note that it was a prewar more idealistic James Stewart as the hero of the film. Of course James even at his most post war bitter 'antihero' best would never be a Nazi stooge .... ;-)

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One of the most disconcerting movies ever is the very jolly *Music in the Air*. All those Germans (played by Gloria Swanson, Douglass Montgomery, Al Shean -- the Marx Bros. uncle! -- and others), prancing around in their lederhosen singing "I've told every little star" in 1934. Based on a popular Broadway music with a great score (Kern/Hammerstein). And just a few years later, what would those characters get up to?

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}

> One of the most disconcerting movies ever is the very jolly *Music in the Air*.

 

I've never seen it, but it sounds interesting. Has TCM ever played it?

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I saw this movie when I was in high school and it moved me emotionally. The story is powerful the stars are great (what a combo Stewart and Sullavan make!) and the production values are top notch. I wrote an article on it earlier this year if anyone is interested in knowing a little more about it.

 

http://classicmoviesdigest.blogspot.com/2009/07/mortal-storm-1940-hollywood-steps-on.html

 

I highly recommend folks watch it if they get the chance.

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Thank you so very much Fred! As I said, I think it is a very powerful film, especially topical in its day and all the factors that made up the film were a very high quality (it was made at MGM after all! LOL). Thanks again for the thumbs up my friend.

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> Mickey and Judy as Nazis. What a crazy idea, it would never get off the...

 

How about Mickey and Judy in the Rick and Ilsa roles in *Casablanca* ? ;-)

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Yesterday I was amazed to learn about all the live TV coverage in Germany between 1935 and 1944. I found a documentary about it on YouTube yesterday.

 

Almost no one had a home TV set back then, but there were some ?TV Parlors? set up as little theaters in Berlin and a couple of other cities.

 

For people who are interested in this topic, and interested in learning what the ?average German? was learning as time passed in the 1930s, here is a very interesting British documentary that shows some extremely rare TELEVISION coverage of the homefront, from 1935 to 1944.

 

This YouTube presentation is in 8 different parts:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dx8Y7s32KY

 

This is amazing film. Nearly all of this is film that was shown on ?live? German television in the 1930s.

 

The narrator explains that this film has been hidden away in some German archive for many decades. He also explains that while the TV coverage was ?live?, they did not have any means of recording the live coverage, so there are no kinescopes of the live coverage.

 

He also explains that many of the TV shows were first filmed, and then the films were shown on ?live? TV. Most of what we see in this documentary is the film that was shown on live TV, with some of the film showing the live TV cameras and crew at work.

 

One segment shows a ?nearly live? coverage from one film camera at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This film camera was set up on top of a van. As the film was shot, it ran down into a film processing machine inside the van, and after developing for a few minutes, the continuous film was dried, while still rolling, and then it ran through a live TV projection unit inside the van, and that TV image was sent to the ?TV Parlors? that had been set up in downtown Berlin.

 

There are supposed to be about 280 reels of this film available. They look like 1,000 foot rolls, and at about 10 minutes per roll, that would be about 46 hours of film.

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"The Mortal Storm" shows vividly how the citizens of Germany were unarmed and had no way to physically fight the Nazis as they gained power. Everyone should have kept an old hunting rifle, a shotgun, and a self-protection pistol hidden at home.

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I think it's a frightening film. Especially the way they used "good guy" American actors, such as Robert Young, Robert Stack, and Dan Dailey to play Nazis, to show how the movement made nice family guys turn bad.

 

I would like to see Maria Ouspenskaya sitting there in her living room with a shotgun, like Lillian Gish at the end of The Night of the Hunter:

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Dec 10, 2011 5:08 PM

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*Fred C Dobbs wrote Nov 28: This is an interesting movie, released in 1940, but the use of all the popular young American actors makes it seem a little silly to me. I just cant work myself up to be afraid of Robert Young or Robert Stack or Dan Dailey.*

 

*Fred C Dobbs wrote Dec 10: I think it's a frightening film. Especially the way they used "good guy" American actors, such as Robert Young, Robert Stack, and Dan Dailey to play Nazis, to show how the movement made nice family guys turn bad.*

 

 

 

Fred, you appear to have changed your mind about the effectiveness of the casting in The Mortal Storm. At the end of November you found it silly but now you find the same casting makes the film frightening. I guess that's the thing about taking another look at the same movie, sometimes it can alter your original take on it.

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Yep Fred, I have to admit you've seemed to have picked up on that issue which I've always had with this film..."good guy" American actors cast as Nazis.

 

Yep, I guess this film must have been made just before Hollywood came to the realization that ALL Nazis should be played by guys who have British accents! ;)

 

(...and then of course, and as you know, once Hollywood figured THAT out, that would open ALL the floodgates for every bloke from Hadrian's Wall to Southhampton to play every OTHER kind of villain in a Tinseltown flick!) :^0

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>Fred, you appear to have changed your mind about the effectiveness of the casting in The Mortal Storm.

 

Yes, I changed my mind. :) I now think they used the "nice guy" actors to show how easy it was for even "nice" families to fall apart and become victims of the crazy movement.

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That all the British characters being portrayed by German actors in that country's TITANIC should sound crude and guttural should be perfectly unbderstandable in light of the Nazis government's approving the film's production as a work of propaganda intended to reinforce stereotypes of the British as elitist, degenerate warmongers. It would, in fact, have been shocking had they been portrayed as anything else.

 

There is also the matter of schools of acting, which vary from country to country. Just as there is certainly a "Hollywood school" (with distinct, though minor, variations elsewhere across the U.S., such as the "New York school"), so, too, is the German approach distinctive. No less valid (and, indeed, many German actors, such as Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt and Paul von Henried, became sought-after commodities when they emigrated to Hollywood) than their American counterparts' approach, it's also unsurprising that it should inform and permeate an all-German piece like TITANIC.

 

Lastly, as to THE MORTAL STORM, it should be kept in mind that Louis B. Mayer sought to keep the German market (that included the German-occupied countries of Europe) open to MGM's product until the last possible moment (no matter that he was a Jewish immigrant born in one of those soon-to-be occupied counreies, in this cast Belorussia). By the time THE MORTAL STORM -- a typically "soft" MGM melodrama -- was released the handwriting was on the wall: the European market was about to be closed to all the U.S. studios, anyway. It's to the Warner Brothers' credit, and mayer's shame, that nothing coming out of Mayer's studio was as hard-hitting, or "prematurely anti-Fascist" as Warner's CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY, released in 1939, when the studios could still indulge in the fantasy that they would be able to conduct business in Europe, and withdraw steady profits, as usual, irrespective of the war or grander political considerations.

 

Jack L. Warner may not have been a saint, but he had guts, unlike his ever-greedy crosstown rival, Mayer.

 

 

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>Yep, I guess this film must have been made just before Hollywood came to the realization that ALL Nazis should be played by guys who have British accents!

 

I think maybe the ancient Romans spoke with British accents too. Evidently a result of their invasion of Britain. :)

 

I often wonder what Italians ate before Marco Polo (pasta from China) and Columbus (tomatoes from the Western Hemisphere)?

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As I'm sure you know, Sprocket, this particular phenomenon regarding the differences in style between the offerings from the MGM and WB studios goes back much farther than just the immediate Pre-War era.

 

In other words, WB films were almost always much more grittier and darker in tone, and thus not only more realistic, but also and in a manner of speaking, more "gutsy" undertakings than were those of MGM's.

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