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The North Star (1943)

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Reviews: 34 user | 11 critic

A Ukrainian village must suddenly contend with the Nazi invasion of June 1941.

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(original story and screenplay), (additional dialogue in new edition)
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Nominated for 6 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Marina Pavlov
...
Kolya Simonov
...
Dr. Kurin
...
Karp
Ann Harding ...
Sophia Pavlov
...
Clavdia Kurin
...
...
Dr. von Harden (as Erich Von Stroheim)
...
Rodion Pavlov
...
Grisha Kurin
Carl Benton Reid ...
Boris Simonov
Ann Carter ...
Olga Pavlov
Esther Dale ...
Anna Kurin
Ruth Nelson ...
Nadya Simonov
Paul Guilfoyle ...
Iakin
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Storyline

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 Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A rolling wall of hell that couldn't be stopped... A handful of men who had to stop it!

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

1 November 1944 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Armored Attack  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-edited) (re-release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 3, 1944 with Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Jane Withers and Farley Granger reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

As the group of children leaves town for Kiev, they are shown walking past the same house twice in succession. See more »

Quotes

Clavdia Kurina, doctor's granddaughter: We *are* women. Different things go on in our heads. That's what makes us attractive.
See more »

Soundtracks

No Village Like Mine
(uncredited)
Music by Aaron Copland
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The changing winds of politics and war
9 January 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

... made this historical curiosity possible.

The German invasion of Russia transformed Stalin from one of Hitler's allies to one of ours, and made necessary the production of propaganda films -- this one, "Mission To Moscow", "Song of Russia" -- to bring everyone around to the new way of thinking. Hollywood liberals seem to have been keen to have the chance to make a pro-Soviet film.

"The North Star", therefore, has an impressive list of credits. Lewis Milestone directs a rather poor Lillian Hellman script, while the music is provided by the unusual combination of Aaron Copland and Ira Gershwin.

The story takes place in a Ukrainian farming village, where ordinary people are determined to resist the foreign aggressors, just as they are in "Dragon Seed" (1944) where the Japanese invasion of China is resisted by Chinese peasants Katherine Hepburn and Walter Huston.

Since this is a propaganda film, and just as realistic as "Dragon Seed", we see a lot of scenes of village life before war breaks out. It's an endless round of singing, dancing, picnicking, and accordion-playing. Everyone is expected to sing in this film, and that includes Farley Granger, Walter Huston, and Dana Andrews, who accompanies himself on balalaika. Listen closely for the jolly folksong about Soviet children eating too much jam. Girls always have flowers in their hair, and people never walk when they can gaily skip down the road. This is a typical Soviet village in the same way that the Von Trapps are a typical Austrian family.

In reality, the pre-war years in the Ukraine saw several million in the countryside starve to death during the artificial famine which was part of Stalin's forcible collectivization policy. In the area where this fairytale village is found, many of the locals welcomed the Germans as liberators.

The pre-war scenes in "The North Star" are certainly ridiculous, but in spite of everything they do manage to have a certain goofy charm. The film changes dramatically for the worse once war breaks out. Most of the film consists of extended battle sequences which are never very convincing or persuasive, where something poignant -- villagers having to set fire to their own houses -- will be followed by something stupid -- cavalrymen leaping from horses through windows at Germans.

Anne Baxter at the end, in a scene intended to evoke Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath", delivers an inspiring speech from her cart. It's a little embarrassing to sit through, but by that point in the film, you've gotten used to it.


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