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 »
This was a film that got a rather high score in the Leonard Maltin Guide--saying the film was "still potent". Well, I was excited about seeing it, as I love American WWII propaganda films and have seen a huge number of them. Unfortunately, while the original stage production of the play and the subsequent movie made quite a splash, the whole thing seems terribly dated and poorly written today. The bottom line is that the film lacks subtlety and has plot holes big enough to fly a B-17 through them! The movie begins well enough, as Frederic March (a fine actor) is in the lead. But my hopes were soon dashed when the little Nazi boy (Emil) comes to live with them. First, it's hard to imagine the Nazis letting a boy leave the country to come to the US while we are at war with them! Secondly, it's hard to imagine the US government just accepting the kid without making sure he wasn't a spy or an America-hater. But regardless, here appears a 12 year-old boy who often sounds quite German (he uses German and English interchangeably) but his accent also wavers a bit--almost sounding Swedish or Polish from time to time. I guess you can't blame him that much, as this is a VERY demanding role for a young boy. But who you can blame are the writers who immediately throw subtlety out the window. Instead of the kid pretending to love America or creating trust with his new family, he immediately acts like the local chairman of the Hitler fan club--even showing up to his first meal dressed in full Hitler Youth regalia (including an armband). Now I don't know about you, but if I'd been alive during the war and a kid moved in with me and preceded to parade around the house in Nazi uniform spouting hate, I think I'd be a bit peeved! But, March and the rest try to show him understanding instead of turning the brat over to the FBI!! Plus, while March works on top-secret military plans, he does a lousy job of securing them so Emil isn't able to steal them. Also, you'd think when he went to school and began spreading hate and Nazi propaganda that the school would have taken more notice. No trip to the principal's office, no phone calls home and no contact with the local police. It just defies all common sense to think that during the war anyone would have been allowed to act this way without being arrested is crazy. America DOES have freedom of speech, but for a foreign national spreading pro-Nazi propaganda during the war, this is ridiculous! Now if this was the only problem with the film, I guess you could chalk it up to naiveté. Unfortunately, it got a lot worse. Emil spread anger and dissent everywhere but no one actually did anything about this...so far, so good. BUT, after 1001 warning signs AND when he then tries to kill two people (by beating one with a fireplace poker and then trying to stab another), you'd think the kid would have been deported or arrested or even shot! But, in one of the worst endings in film history, they stupid family feels sorry for the kid and decides, like the Beatles once said, "all you need is love". To make matters worse, the girl who was beaten with the poker was March's own kid and the lady who convinces March not to press charges in the end was his Jewish fiancée!! Yecch!!! What drivel. The film just doesn't make sense and becomes tiresome because of all this.
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