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"Mission to Moscow" was made at the behest of F.D.R. in order to garner more support for the Soviet Union during WWII. It was from the book by Joseph E. Davies, former U.S. Ambassador To Russia. The movie covers the political machinations in Moscow just before the start of the war and presents Stalin's Russia in a very favorable light. So much so, that the movie was cited years later by the House Un-American Activities Commission and was largely responsible for the screenwriter, Howard Koch being Blacklisted. Written by
E. Barry Bruyea <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film was often mentioned during the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in its investigation of alleged Communist "infiltration" of the motion picture industry and was chiefly responsible for the blacklisting of screenwriter Howard Koch. Warner Bros. studio head Jack L. Warner defended the picture as being "made when our country was fighting for its existence, with Russia as one of our allies . . . The picture was made only to help a desperate war effort and not for posterity." See more »
Aside from the issue of the fairness of the Moscow purge trials, or the truthfulness of the alleged confessions of the accused, the people shown standing trial together in the film in fact did not all stand trial at the same time. There were two such major show trials, one in 1937, the second in 1938, and the real life characters depicted in the film as being tried simultaneously were actually tried in separate groups at one of the two trials. See more »
[to the prosecutor]
Aside from sleeping I never in my life committed an undeliberate action.
See more »
Opens with a card reading: We have the honor to present the former Ambassador from the United States to the Soviet Union, the Honorable Joseph E. Davies, who will address you prior to the showing of the film made from his important book, "Mission to Moscow". In the picture itself, Mr. Walter Huston portrays Mr. Davies during those vital years encompassed in his now significant report to this nation. And now, Mr. Davies: [Mr. Davies gives a presentation on the actual events leading up to these events, and to this film.] See more »
This was probably dull in 1943, but in the 21st Century it's really deadly dull and dated.
Mission to Moscow (1943)
What a bore, a laugh, an epic squandering. There is competance, of courseit's a Warner Bros. film in the 1940s with Michael Curtiz directingbut it's so burdened by its message it never becomes an actual movie about conflicts, characters, and plot.
It's pure propaganda. Knowing that, you can watch it with historic curiosity. It is, truly, weird enough to warrant a look if you follow the Roosevelt/Stalin comparison, and the general American attitude to the Soviet Union in the 1940s.
You will, however, get bored. It begins with a series of speeches, including an opening explanation by the author of the book the movie builds on. Even when the scenes have some interest, as when the diplomatic family tours the USSR, there is such an obvious attempt to make the Russians wonderful people with a terrific political system it turns your stomach. Not that I need to agree or disagree, I just don't want to be preached to.
And so it goes. There are factory visits, parades, ballroom affairs, and lots of preachy talking. It's impossible to care or get absorbed, but it is revealing of one large oddity of WWII: the need of the US to work alongside the USSR in defeating Hitler. The Germans come off badly, of course (the trains are so efficient they won't wait for people who get to the platform late). The Japanese even worse, caricatures who have made a mess of China. The second half of the movie is a different beast, a kind of judicial series of confrontations. It also has the feel of "information" instead of drama. It's well made, fairly well films and edited with clarity, but it can't make a silk purse out of you know what.
Warner Bros. fans might enjoy the appearance of an amazing number of actors. Because of all the shifting scenes from country to country, there was a need for a great number of secondary but familiar actors, like the detective from "Mildred Pierce." A good half the actors will seem familiar, even if you can't place what movies you've seen them in. If you love Curtiz (the reason I watched), you'll have trouble seeing his brilliance.
Finally, we might expect some kind of political revelation hereand what we see is a kind of admirable but perhaps naive American acting as ambassador to the USSR in the late 1930s. That's the guy who wrote the book, Joseph Davies, and you can see all these good intentions and homespun (Wisconsin style) Americanisms. It doesn't hold up well against the tough characters he was up against all around, from Stalin to Churchill.
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