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A brilliant but impoverished writer, who is a pacifist, goes to work for a publisher and writes anti-war editorials. When he discovers that the publisher has betrayed him and is in league with munitions manufacturers to make money off of war, he goes insane. Written by
Claude Rains is shocked ... shocked I say! ...to discover that politicians are dishonest
This is a great anti-war film with a commentary on the politics of power that is all too relevant today. Claude Rains plays Paul Verin, a pacifist writer with a great heart and mind but no ambition. Lionel Atwill plays Henry Dumont, the head of a newspaper chain who has no heart, a mediocre mind, and great ambition. The second type of man always needs the first type of man, and this sets up our story. Dumont just doesn't want to rule, he wants to make a fortune for himself and his friends through ruling, and he sees the greatest opportunity for monetary gain through war and the munitions business. First, however, Dumont needs to whip up the masses to be in his corner, and thus he turns his attentions to the writing skills of Paul Verin, who is duped by Dumont into believing they have the shared goal of furthering peace.
Joan Bennett plays Verin's wife, Adele, who is a very morally ambiguous character. Until the end, she can never make up her mind whether or not she loves the creature comforts of life more than Paul, and the fact that I couldn't decide whether I liked this person or not is a tribute to her acting.
The beginning starts with a bang, and the movie does have a bit of implied horror in it. The scene opens on a window breaking, a woman screaming, and a delirious Claude Rains staggering out of his house and into the snowy streets of WWI Paris carrying a mysterious satchel with one arm and his small daughter with the other. I'll let you watch and see how this all plays out. Highly recommended.
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