In June 1941, famed American symphony conductor John Meredith (Robert Taylor) is touring Soviet Russia with his manager Hank (Robert Benchley) when they go to a small rural town where famed...
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Olivia de Havilland,
In June 1941, famed American symphony conductor John Meredith (Robert Taylor) is touring Soviet Russia with his manager Hank (Robert Benchley) when they go to a small rural town where famed Russian composer Tchaikovsky was born. John meets Nadya (Susan Peters), a sweet peasant girl with an ear for classical music and they soon get married. When war breaks out, John want to flee back to the USA, but Nadya wants to stay and fight the invading Germans who are closing in on the village. Written by
Director Gregory Ratoff collapsed on the set on 29 June 1943; Laslo Benedek took over as director for the remainder of the principal photography and for the October 1943 retakes. It is not known who directed the retakes needed in September 1943. See more »
Although the film is set during the German invasion of Russia in 1941, uniforms and equipment shown in both the stock footage and the American-filmed scenes are largely from the period of 1943-44, when the film was made. Of particular note are the helmets and rank insignia which are indicative of this later era. See more »
During the period of truce of the Hitler-Stalin pact, American symphony conductor Robert Taylor is touring the Soviet Union with his manager Robert Benchley. Soviet classical pianist Susan Peters stalks Taylor, but eventually gets to meet him when she sits down and plays Tonight We Love. That little piece of Tschaikovsky was a big pop hit in America at the time.
It's a tender love story that develops between Taylor and the classical groupie and they marry. He visits her in her village, meets her people and is really impressed by the way they've just taken to Communism.
Of course Hitler blinks in the game of diplomatic chicken he was playing with Stalin and attacks the Soviet Union. The people organize and resist. What will happen with Taylor and Peters.
Robert Taylor resisted loud and long about doing this film, it seared at his anti-Communist soul. But he was also an agreeable contract employee at MGM and Louis B. Mayer said he wasn't thrilled about it either, but that the request for this film came directly from the Office of War Information. Of course being hammerlocked into doing Song of Russia is what ultimately led to Taylor being a friendly witness at the House Un American Activities Committee.
You could see Taylor's heart wasn't in this one. Susan Peters comes out so much the better. What a tragic loss she was, a bright beautiful girl with a great career ahead of her, paralyzed and eventually dying from a hunting accident.
Like 20th Century Fox's North Star, Song of Russia has so much music in it, it could qualify as a musical. Jerome Kern and E.Y. Harburg contributed a forgettable song called And Russia Is Her Name. Like North Star, Song of Russia was later cited as two of the three biggest examples of Communist influence in Hollywood, the other being Mission to Moscow.
The Soviets at great sacrifice saved the world from Hitler and made it possible for Soviet ideological driven imperialism to move into the vacuum. Now that the Cold War is receding in our collective consciousness, maybe a film showing the Russian contribution to winning World War II can be made without arousing all the right wing yahoos.
This one certainly wasn't it.
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