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Susan Green

To See or Not to See

(10 June 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 9, 10 June 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Sing, You Sinner, Sing!

If you get to the movies when the theatre opens for the day, the first thing you will see is Old Glory waving in technicolor. The words of the national anthem are flashed before you and a chorus opens up at you. Everybody in the audience rises and begins to sing. If you are a bit slow on the pickup, you will begin to feel eyes of disapproval boring into your back. Rather than have someone grab you by the scruff of your neck, you perhaps get up, making yourself as small as possible. Old Glory continues to flutter in the breeze, bombs burst in air, the chorus booms from the screen, and the audience does the best it can. You hope nobody is noticing your lack of enthusiasm, If you think you’re being noticed, you begin blowing your nose, wiping your eyes, coughing and indicating in various other ways what a bad cold you have.

Again Wall Street wraps itself in, the American flag.

Film on Russian-Finnish War

Back in 1936 the first, second and third Olympic prizes for skiing are won by a Russian, Finn and American. These three are not only great skiers but good friends. The recent Soviet invasion brings the American to Finland. He joins his Finnish friend in a small company of skiers who are holding a strategic mountain against great odds. The company goes out in a desperate effort, to prevent the Russians from blowing up the mountain. All are killed except the Finnish friend. He is hit but not killed. His friend, the Russian skier, is sent out to bring him in as prisoner. Instead they fraternize, The Russian helps the Finn to escape, takes the death penalty for it, and in dying, unconsciously completes the task his Finnish friend set out to accomplish.

Such a story affords material for an excellent anti-war film: the brutality and futility of war in bold relief against the good fellowship of international sports. However Universal Films has turned out merely a run-of-the-mill production. The action is unconvincing, the dramatic possibilities are ignored, the acting is perfunctory. The only compliment that can b,e paid the film is a negative one. Because of its weakness it also fails to whoop up a war spirit on behalf of poor little Finland. Perhaps we should commend Universal for producing a weakling.

Humor in the French Manner
A French film with English subtitles

A good French film of rural life, is one of the most pleasing things to, see. No matter what the theme, whimsicalities of everyday existence are so cleverly woven into it that the humor is an integrated part of the whole. One does not take time out to laugh, but is continuously delighted. The Mayor’s Dilemma belongs to this category.

The setting is the last world war. The Germans occupy a small French village. A German soldier is killed by a villager. The German commander threatens to bombard the village unless the murderer is turned over by morning. The Mayor knows who the murderer is and that he will never be surrendered ... In an effort to save the village from destruction, he makes a deal with the commander. Five hostages are to be taken. These will be destroyed instead of the village. Sadly, the Mayor explains the situation to the villagers. As the leading citizen he volunteers to be hostage No. 1. The rich landowner hotly disputes the Mayor’s title to leading citizen and himself volunteers as hostage No. 1. The competition for the honors becomes keen . Even the drunken poacher demands to be taken, protesting that the rich get all the privileges. Finally lots are drawn. In the morning the French army reoccupies the village, so the ending is a happy one – and very amusing.

While this is a war story and contains a light sprinkling of anti-war sentiment, these factors are lost in the milieu.

If You’re in the Mood

A very silly love story is used as a skeleton on which to hang a good show of songs, dancing, wise-cracks and goofy situations. When you have a yen for this type of Broadway special, go see Benny ride.

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Last updated: 10 July 2014