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Laura is a nurse at the Front in World War I. She meets and falls for a young flyer named Geoffrey. On his first mission, Geoffrey is shot down and taken to the hospital where Laura works. Within days he succumbes to his injuries. Faced with the fact that she is with Geoffrey's child, she accepts the proposal of Ed Seward who still wants to marry her. Laura vowes that her new son will never fight in a war again. Jumping ahead it is 1940 and Robert, who is Geoffrey's son, meets Peggy Chase on a Ship steaming across the Atlantic. Ed Seward, who is now the Secretary of State, has adverted War by drafting a peace treaty with a belligerent country called Eurasia. However, before the treaty can be signed, Eurasia has the envoy assassinated and both sides escalate. At home, Laura campaigns for Peace, Ed stands with the country and will fight and Robert declares that he will not fight. In doing so, Robert loses Peggy and sees his family break apart. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although produced in 1933, the bulk of the film takes place in 1940; events depicting the start of World War II are, of course, fictional and strictly futuristic, but nonetheless on target as far as the date is concerned. See more »
Men Must Fight is an interesting if somewhat dated look at the future of the world as seen from 1933. At that time the thought of another total war like World War I turned out to be was abhorrent in the eyes of civilization. In fact World War I was simply called the Great War when referred to, that we'd have another was unthinkable.
Diana Wynyard plays a nurse on the front lines in the Great War who's in love with flier Robert Young. When Young's killed, he's left something permanent for Wynyard to remember him by. But good and stout friend Lewis Stone will marry her and raise the kid as their own.
Flash forward 20 years and the future in 1940 has folks using television and cellphones where one can talk and text. Lewis Stone is the US Secretary of State and curiously enough his character name is William Seward like another of our greatest Secretarys of State. Diana Wynyard is a pacifist activist and the two seem to work in tandem.
The film is purposely vague, not telling us exactly who the US rivals are out there. It's an amorphous amalgamation of countries called, Eurasia. Our ambassador to there is assassinated and this means war because national honor requires it. Interestingly enough a few of our ambassadors in the past centuries were assassinated and the USA did not go to war for national honor in real life.
This causes a conflict in Wynyard's grown son played by Phillips Holmes. Stone falls in line with the war declaration, Wynyard still works for peace, Holmes doesn't know what to do though he leans in Wynyard's direction. Holmes also is in conflict with his fiancé Ruth Selwyn who says America must fight.
At that time the ultimate weapon was poison gas and the fear was that the chemists on both sides would make even more lethal varieties. And air raids. New York in fact is bombed by air.
Men Must Fight is old fashioned and melodramatic. At the same time it's a sincere plea for international understanding and peace. My guess is that Louis B. Mayer buried this one deep in MGM's vaults when World War II came around. We're fortunate to have TCM show it, especially since leading lady Diana Wynyard made so very few films.
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