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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

THE MASTER RACE (1944)

Father & son producers Edward & Robert Golden, after a hit debut with HITLER’S CHILDREN/’43, followed up with a second Nazi-themed thriller set at the end of the war that orders a gaggle of German commanders to go incognito into newly liberated towns to start dividing & conquering all over again. Hitler is Finished! Long Live National Socialism! The plan’s mastermind is George Coulouris, a high ranking Nazi who begins to surreptitiously sabotage all the good will & good deeds the American, British & Soviet soldiers bring to a small Belgium town as its war-weary soldiers start drifting home. The basic idea of winning the peace was unusual for the time (the war was still raging), and this indie pic offers a technically impressive package with dark, moody lensing from Russell Metty and a believable war-torn town. No stars, but a good mix of fresh & seasoned featured players, look for a young Lloyd Nolan and little Gigi Perreau at the start of her cute-kid days. But whereas HITLER’S CHILDREN became something of a breakthrough for its director, Edward Dymtryk, this one comes out stillborn under the barely competent, often corny hand (and script) of Herbert Biberman. Best known now as one of the Hollywood Ten*, it does offer a rare example of a Hollywood pic that really does shoehorn some Rah-Rah-Russia, Soviet-style propaganda into the narrative mix, sticking a happy-go-lucky Red Army Doctor right in the middle of Belgium. How’d he get there?

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Ironically, after both served a 6 month jail term, Biberman was one of the ‘Card Carrying Communists’ Dmytryk ‘named’ to clear himself in Hollywood.

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