When Emil appears in his Nazi uniform, the shirt and pants are those of the Hitler Youth (which is appropriate for someone his age). However, the armband is not that of the Hitler Youth (alternating red and white bands with a swastika inside a white diamond), but that of a regular party member (solid red background with a swastika in a white circle). He would not have been eligible for full party membership - and the party armband - until his 18th birthday. See more »
One must make allowances -- it was wartime, it was propaganda, it was United Artists -- but even taking all that into account, this is a fairly ludicrous melodrama about an upper-middle-class American household that brings chaos on itself by unknowingly inviting a Hitler Youth into its home. And what a little hellraiser he turns out to be -- writing anti-Semitic epithets about his teacher and potential stepmom (Field), whacking his cousin(Carroll) with a fireplace iron, attempting to knife a playmate. Adapted by no less than Ring Lardner Jr. from a hit Broadway play, it may have had resonance at the time, if audiences were willing to overlook pedestrian direction, absurdly melodramatic music, and Homeier's undisciplined histrionics (reprising his stage role, he's sort of a Nazi Dennis the Menace). But the script, like so many at the time, takes the goodness of Americans, all Americans, so for granted that it starts to sound smug and patronizing. (It's a mighty white-bread America they're portraying, too; if that's how things really were, it looks today like an unwitting expose of America's racist past.) It also suggests that it's fairly easy to deprogram these little monsters; all it takes is a bit of lovingkindness and a birthday present. March and Moorehead (playing a repressed spinster aunt, much like she did in "The Magnificent Ambersons") were as good as movie actors get, but they're playing devices here, not flesh and blood. Under the circumstances, Betty Field manages to be surprisingly interesting -- she always looks so worried, like she has a horrible secret the audience never finds out.
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