Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Watched this flick tonight (last night now) on Turner Classic Movies just because it was directed by Fritz Lang and came out in 1943 when I was a toddler. WWII movies always interest me, partly because I had two brothers in the military during the war (though one never left the states the other was on Okinawa) and I grew up with the newsreels and magazine articles and ration books as a big part of my consciousness.

The first exceptional thing about the movie was in the opening credits with the screenplay credit for "Bert Brecht" and another writer who had to translate Brecht. (Robert Osborne, the knowledgeable movie historian who hosted this showing explained afterwards that Brecht claimed only one scene he actually wrote ended up in the finished film, and of course the scene is mostly in German.) Brecht was a fellow German, like Lang, refugees from Nazism.

The film used the Hollywood conceit of having any dialogue in German be in German and the rest of the dialogue supposedly in Czech be in American English. Bertold Brecht (I like the way Hollywood made him "Bert") was one of my favorite writers when I was a young man, so the film kept my interest even when it was over baked.

But despite the stilted title and over simplification in some of the plot and dialogue and ideas in the movie, it is always incredible to see what audiences were actually watching while the war was being fought and millions of people were dying in the bloodiest conflict in my lifetime.  For me, it was well worth watching as a bit of movie history, let alone world history.

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