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McKinley B. "Mac" Thompson, American reporter in Moscow, smuggles out uncensored news under the alias "Comrade X," but hotel valet Vanya discovers his secret. Vanya fears for the safety of his daughter Golubka ("Theodore") and blackmails Mac into helping her leave the country. Mac is happier about his task once he meets lovely Theodore, but can he convince her of his sincerity? The anti-communist humor becomes alternately grim and farcical. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
At the time this film was released, in 1940, World War II had already begun in Europe, but the Soviet Union still had a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. In the film, Mac is able to fool a character by pretending to hear news that Germany has broken the pact and launched an invasion of the USSR. Of course, that's exactly what happened the very next year when Germany launched Operation Barbarossa in summer 1941. See more »
The script makes reference to the Soviet law that a person could divorce his or her spouse simply by sending them a postcard announcing that the marriage was over - but in 1936, four years before this film was made, Stalin had repealed that law when he rewrote the Russian constitution and made divorces considerably harder to get. See more »
Russia: The never never land of steppes, samovars, and spies - beards, bears, bombs, and borscht - where anything can happen - and usually does - almost.
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With the success MGM had with Ninotchka another lampooning of the Soviet Union seemed a natural. So the following year while the Hitler-Stalin pact was still active, MGM came up with Comrade X.
Comrade X is a pseudonym for some journalist who is sending uncensored stories out about the real Soviet Union. It happens to be Clark Gable and the whole Soviet secret police apparatus is after him.
But a valet at a hotel where the foreign correspondents stay played by Felix Bressart comes upon his secret. He offers a deal to Gable, he won't turn him in if Gable convinces Bressart's daughter Hedy Lamarr to leave the Soviet Union with him and come to America.
Easier said than done because Lamarr is as committed a Communist as Greta Garbo was in Ninotchka. So like Melvyn Douglas in Ninotchka, Gable's got his work cut out for him.
Comrade X's humor is a little more broad than Ninotchka's was. It even got a few good knocks in on Nazi Germany with Sig Ruman playing a German correspondent. The humor about the Soviets concerns what a dangerous thing it was to rise in the ranks of the party. Remember this was also the time of Stalin purging all kinds of people out of the party. Something that didn't stop until Hitler broke the non-aggression pact in 1941.
And Hedy Lamarr is sure no Garbo, but she acquits herself nicely in the role of the fuzzy headed idealist.
Gable, Lamarr, and Bressart get caught up in the internal politics of the Soviet Union and have to flee the country. What happens to them is the balance of the film and it is hilarious.
One of the best films done by both of the stars. Grand comedy.
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