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John M. Stahl
In a peaceful Ukrainian village, the school year is just ending in June 1941. Five young friends set out for a walking trip to Kiev, but their travels are brutally interrupted when they are suddenly attacked by German planes, in the first wave of the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union. When the village itself is attacked and occupied, most of the men flee to the hills to form a guerrilla unit. The others resist the Nazis as well as possible, but soon the village is placed under the command of a Nazi doctor who begins using the town's children as a source of constant blood transfusions for wounded German soldiers. Meanwhile, the small group of young persons tries desperately to take a supply of firearms to the guerrillas. Written by
This is one of the films deemed "subversive" by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in October, 1947, at the height of the McCarthy "Red Scare" era. The committee decided that, even though Russia was our ally against Nazi Germany in World War II - when this film was made - the movie's sympathetic portrayal of Russian peasants and guerrillas who were fighting off Nazi forces was an "endorsement" of Communism. See more »
As the group of children leaves town for Kiev, they are shown walking past the same house twice in succession. See more »
Rare Movie To Show Soviet Russia In Positive Light
One of the many staple of movies made during WWII to both entertain the audience and aid the war effort. Several then-known and soon-to-be-known stars such as Walter Brennan, Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, and Anne Baxter. Aside from the usual war effort type movie, the biggest thing about this movie was that it was one of the rare movies to show the Soviet Union in a positive light. Granted it focused on a small village in the Ukraine without much explicit Soviet visuals but it was none the less. Again it was shot in 1943 when we, and the Soviets, were technically allies and battling the Nazis. Even then the US was never really at ease with the Soviet alliance and shortly after the surrender of Germany it became apparent that the Soviets broke with the rest of the allied post-war plans. However this movie was meant to be more of a heart-warming drama focusing on several families and most specifically their young children who are from 17-to late 20s and a couple even younger who set out on a road trip on the same day Nazi Germany invades the Ukraine. Brennan plays the old man grandfatherly figure who helps the younger people deal with the attack once it commences. This was one of Dana Andrews' earliest war type movies he goes on to play many more such roles. Obviously meant to be a propaganda piece or at least to elicit support for the war it is a good movie if you like war type movies especially since it shows an aspect of the WWII experience that is not commonly scene in movies.
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