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Susan Green

To See or Not to See

(19 August 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 19, 19 August 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Daughters Without Ducats

To have had a family of five marriageable daughters in middle-class provincial England of the early nineteenth century, was no joke. Husbands had to be found somehow. The competition of other families with daughters on their hands was as deadly as economic competition can be. When an eligible bachelor with money appeared on the scene, normal competition broke out into open warfare.

Thanks to Jane Austen’s honesty about her era and to MGM’s good sense in sticking to her realistic slant, this story about long ago does not ooze nostalgic longing for the “good old times”, as is usually the case with such pictures. Instead you get a bit of what was what. The struggle of Mrs. Bennett to marry off her petticoated brood, is no pretty thing to see – even through the kindly spectacles of Jane Austen’s sense of humor.

The kick of the story is concentrated in Lizzie Bennett, the oldest of the girls, who had beauty, charm, wit and a healthy resentment for the haughty aristocrats who looked down their noses at her own class. Her poisoned arrows were directed at the unbending Mr. Darcy and the verbal contest – in spite of the king’s best English – is a wow. In the happy end she overcomes her prejudice and he his pride.

Greer Garson easily takes the honors as Lizzie, in a very well-casted piece. She is beautiful, and not at all dumb. She knows her stuff all right.

Heil, Heel!

One can expect a long list of anti-Nazi films just to push along the “moral” armament program. Here is one of them, and it is really better than routine – though you must beware of the patriotic overtones.

A German in America and his American wife are summoned to Germany by the man’s father. They start with a disbelief in what they have heard about the Nazis. When they get there, their reactions are diametrically opposed. He becomes such an enthusiastic admirer of the “energy" “of the “new” Germany that be joins the Nazi party, decides to remain there, to divorce his wife for a Nazi woman, and to keep his American-born little boy in the fatherland.

She on the other hand, has he eyes opened to the starker realities of Hitlerism by an American journalist in Berlin – he puts in a scare or two by alluding to Hitler’s intentions in America. After witnessing wanton cruelties practised on innocent Czechs and being herself arrested by the Gestapo, she salutes her Nazi husband with a “Heil, Heel!”, to the great delight of the audience.

The ending has an unexpected twist. In order to get his grandson back to America, the old man reveals that his wife was a Holland Jewess. He had bribed the proper officials to have the records “fixed”. The Nazi woman, in whose presence this revelation is made, runs off to tell the Gestapo. The would-be Nazi hero is in for it. The torments he was willing to inflict on others, he will enjoy himself.

Consistency not being too important to film-makers by and large, we must not ask if taking care of his business was a good enough reason for this anti-Nazi father to bring his son back into the clutches of the Gestapo.

Oh Wonderful Democracy!

There are possibilities for an uproariously funny film based on a situation where a small-town adolescent goes nuts over America’s No. 1 glamor girl. Naturally, it must be kept strictly on the flippant side.

However, in the interest of preparing youth to defend democracy, Hollywood recognizes no limitations. A flying leap is taken into a solemn sermon on the nobility of America’s great, the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. and, of course, equality of opportunities. Judge Hardy, Andy’s old man, lectures Andy on these brightly original topics – and is plenty boring.

To prove that democracy is not a matter of words alone, Judge Hardy wins a case against a slick Wall Street lawyer and an orphanage is not taken away from the poor orphans. Andy, who has been complaining about his lowly station in life, is of course convinced that he is the equal of any society girl.

Such are the problems of youth and thus are they solved.

Mickey Rooney should be given better things to do.

Hitler Struts

At the Garden Theatre, 86th Street & Lexington Avenue, in the centre of the German population of New York, audiences applaud pictures of the German blitzkrieg, of Hitler, of anything German.

A recent newsreel showed Hitler as the French surrendered at Campiegne. First there was the monument set up to commemorate the French victory over the Germans in the last war. The Nazi flag rolled down over it. Hitler and his delegation marched into the railroad car. The French delegation entered and signed on the dotted line. Hitler left the car looking like the cat that has licked up the cream – he all but patted his belly in satisfaction. Yorkville admirers gloated with him.

Uncritical, misguided patriotism is, however, not the monopoly of Yorkville Germans. There is the 100% American variety as well.

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Last updated: 16 July 2014