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Joe Smith is an average American citizen, working in an aircraft factory. He has access to the plans for a new bomb-sight and is kidnapped by enemy agents who unsuccessfully torture him to get him to betray his country. He escapes and leads the FBI to his captors. Written by
Herman Seifer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
America, My Country Tis of Thee
Music by Lowell Mason, based on the melody from "God Save the Queen" by Henry Carey (1744)
Lyrics by Samuel Francis Smith (1832)
In the score during the opening credits
Sung a cappella by the school children See more »
Refreshingly free of cant and surprisingly low on propaganda, Joe Smith American is one of the best 'B' features you'll ever see--it was so good, in fact, that it opened in 1942 atop the bill at movie theatres in New York City. Robert Young plays the titular character, an all American 'Joe' who won't spill his guts about a secret bomb sight to the bad guys--even after being tortured and threatened with death. The torture sequence is surely one of the most grueling things committed to celluloid from the period, and in addition to being spectacularly shot by Charles Lawton Jr. was masterfully lit by one of MGM's superbly trained and uncredited craftsmen. The cloth binding used to blind and gag Young, coupled with the narrative use of his inner voice, anticipates the bleak and distressing Johnny Got His Gun by thirty years. And while the film is certainly a tribute to American patriotism--witness the fascinating schoolyard rendition of My Country Tis of Thee, complete with an odd fascist style salute to the flag--it pointedly allows Young's character to sleep in on Sundays and miss church!
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