Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...



Recommended Posts

     In my pursuit of all things Jules Dassin I set my internal clock the other night for 1 am harboring the erroneous belief that Mr. Dassin had directed the 1943 film "Hitler's Children".  I quickly learned as the opening credits rolled that it was not My Man Jules that helmed this particular piece of pot boiler propaganda (sorry but I am  a sucker for  alliteration) but another Hollywood director famed for his excursions into the film noir genre Edward Dmytryk. Wait The plot thickens, in typical film noir fashion- Dmytryk is the man responsible for Dassin being blacklisted, having denounced him in 1951.  I decided to watch the film made by the man responsible for my pal Jules forced ejection from the Hollywood film biz.  I want to qualify what I am about to write with a few basic facts.  I do not own my own computer.  I am at the mercy of the local library and a community center here in New Haven.  Therefore I am always under a severe time constraint writing these simple slices of cinema insight (too much?).  Please forgive any errors that may result because of my inability to access the computer fully.  I also cannot research my "essays" (for lack of a better word) as deeply as I'd like, often relying on the facile Wikipedia site.  Hopefully some of these impediments will be resolved in time.  Now!  On to... 

       "HITLER'S CHILDREN"!!  I have always wanted to watch this movie if only for the title alone.  And for all of you who question my writing this bit in the film noir-gangster category who but the Nazi's were the greatest gangsters in the history of man!   I hate getting bogged done in plot; let's get that out of the way as quickly as possible.  Our very own Nancy Drew, Bonita Granville plays Anna, a young lass at the American school in Berlin.  It is 1933, not a good year to be a German born Yank residing in the Deutschland (not a good year for anyone to be there).   As our flicker opens our freedom loving friends are fighting a bunch of Nazi Youth.  During the fracas Tim Holt, a strapping example of Germany's future meets the spunky Bonita.  He quickly succumbs to her cheeky charms and after a bit of resistance Bonita returns his affection.  Time passes and Holt rises in the Nazi machine while Bonita remains in Germany (why didn't she leave? Because then we would have no movie) Eventually Bonita ends up in a labor camp unwillingly to renounce her loyalty to the good Ol' USA and suffers fierce reprisals for her stubbornness.  Holt ultimately allows his love for her to trump (ugh, a word currently as ugly in this political climate as fascism) his Nazi leanings and they both end up victims of Hitler's tyranny.  That's it in a smarmy nutshell, now let us talk about the essentials-not a great film!  It made a lot of money for RKO but I was not impressed.  An obvious piece of wartime propaganda, melodramatic and shrill but a few interesting moments.  A close-up of Holt and Granville embracing in shadow was beautiful and a fine example of German Expressionism.  There were scenes of  Anna fleeing her enemies in the woods.   These were lovely and evoked again those fabulous Universal horror films of the thirties.  Nice film noir touches.  Bonita ends up seeking refuge in  a Catholic Church  and is fortified by a particularly stirring speech by priest H B Warner (I cried a few salty tears but then I'm an easy mark for this brand of schmaltz!)  Granville's flogging by the Nazi's was appropriately brutal; (First "Rififii" and now this! Two women being  whipped in two consecutive movies. Enough, I am not a sadist) her and Holt's death  at the end was fairly gripping for this piece of claptrap.  And Otto Kruger and Hand Conried are always a welcome addition to any movie.  But, and I have a couple starting off with actor Kent Smith's butt! As broad as George Brent's and equally unappealing I just don't like this guy as an actor (for the record he plays a teacher in the American school Bonita attends).  I remember watching "Nora Prentiss" a while back with the lovely Ann Sheridan and thinking, poor Ann gets saddled with this ****!   The same for the sexy Simone Simon in "The Cat People"; he is truly a lackluster leading man.  Fortunately we have scrumptious Tim Holt- he is a dish and a pretty good actor as well.  He fills out that Nazi uniform quite deliciously.  For the record I am a gay guy and a male star's sex appeal is often an important aspect of his watchability for me.  I have straight male friends who hate Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" because they feel she lacks desirability-hell payback's a b, boys! what's good for he gander...you know what I mean.  Which brings me to the conclusion of this dubious piece of film criticism-Tim is prettier than Bonita!  Miss Granville has committed the ultimate sin of a child actor-she is just not that appealing as an adult.  She would have made a fine character actress but does not have the necessary attributes to be a leading lady.  One flawed man's opinion.  I am happy to report Miss Granville made the smart career move of marrying millionaire,getting involved in the production end of the business and eventually returning as a character actress before her death from lung cancer at the age of 65 in 1988.  Good for you, Nancy Drew!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

Many actresses prefer lack-luster leading men since that brings more focus on the her character.    Bette Davis didn't make so many films with George Brett because no one else was available.


As for Bonita Granville:  Big fan.   I'll have to seek out those Nancy Drew films since I haven't seen one in a long time.    


Before Hitler's Children some of my favorite, non-Nancy-Drew films with Bonita are:


It's Love I'm After - Leslie Howard,  Bette Davis and Olivia DeHavilland.


Merrily We Live -  Constance Bennett and Brian Aherne.


Third Finger, Left Hand - Myrna Loy and Melvin Douglas.


Escape - Norma Shearer and Robert Taylor


H.M. Pulham, Esq - Robert Young and Hedy Lamarr


The Glass Key - Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake  (Bonita is all grown up in this one)


And of course the Davis film Now Voyager.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...