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Saturday, April 2, 2016

HITLER'S CHILDREN (1943)

Edward Dmytryk got a career boost, and his big Hollywood break, when he took over direction of this Nazi-atrocity exploitation B-pic. It opens with a real visual tour-de-force as well-drilled masses of Nazi Youth gather ‘round a sacred flame to pledge allegiance to the cult of Hitler. After that, the film turns conventional & far less imaginative (in spite of Russell Metty’s fine lensing) charting a youthful opposites-attract romance between Tim Holt’s true Aryan believer & Bonita Granville’s German-American school girl. Kent Smith, professor at an American Academy, is our guide to German degradation as he goes thru a maze of Nazi diplomatic channels trying to help the lovers. Highlights include: Forced Sterilization Labs; Unwed Mothers birthing for the Reich; Religious Harassment in and out of church; Work Camps & worse for protesters. Bijou’ers were agog! Not a subtle piece of work by any means, and not meant to be. Clunky, effective, and an enormous surprise hit in its day. Plus, Holt is very, very good.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Listen closely to the actor doing Hitler in English. Why it’s Hans Conried who’s also in here mit German accent as Dr. Graf.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Is there another actor with as low a profile as Tim Holt who appeared in so many classic pics? STELLA DALLAS/’37; STAGECOACH/’39; THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS/42; MY DARLING CLEMENTINE/’46 and THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE/’48. It’s quite a list. (And add HIS KIND OF WOMAN/’51 to this Screwy Thought repeat.)

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