The music in the film became the subject of a minor but telling episode in the Cold War. Alfred Newman, the illustrious head of the 20th Century-Fox music department, scored this picture. It's not readily known who decided to incorporate genuine Soviet music into the film, but Newman's score featured compositions by the USSR's finest: Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturyan and Dominik Miskovský. All four composers signed (or were ordered to sign) a letter of protest that claimed their music was appropriated via a "swindle" in order to accompany this "outrageous picture". No individuals were named, except "the agents of the American Twentieth Century-Fox Corporation". None of the composers would have had the opportunity to have seen the movie, thus it is to be assumed that they were put up to this protestation by the Stalin regime. Interestingly, the four "protesting" Soviet composers were at that same time under severe scrutiny themselves for composing music that was construed as subversive to the Soviet state, and for a time their heads were on the chopping block. So it's also to be assumed that the four filed this protest as a gesture of their loyalty to Joseph Stalin (or, more likely, to save themselves from being executed). In any case, these composers were often obliged to make "statements" that they personally had nothing to do with. Coincidentally, Hollywood at this same time was beginning to be scrutinized by the House Un-American Activities Committee for signs of "subversion" of the American state, resulting its its own blacklist. See Slonimsky, Nicolas "Music Since 1900" 5th Ed. p.1066-7 See more »
The invitation shown from the "Associated Friends of Soviet Russia" requests the "honor" of the recipient's company, and later a newspaper headline reads, "Rumor M.P. To Be Arrested In Spy Probe". As the film takes place in Canada, where British spellings are used, the words should have been spelled "honour" and "rumour". See more »
Fascinating true spy story, the Gouzenko Defection
The defection of Igor Gouzenko from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, in 1946, was one of the most electrifying events of the Cold War. The documents and information which he brought with him, gained from his work as a top-secret cipher clerk, resulted in the destruction of the main Soviet spy ring in Canada, which included a Member of Parliament and a nuclear scientist who was working on the atomic bomb. This film, with all the locations shot in Ottawa, and its details drawn from the official reports of a Royal Commission, is a fascinating depiction of the true story of Gouzenko from the moment of his arrival in Canada, his first time outside the Soviet Union, till his defection with his wife and child. William Wellmann directed the film in a low-key style, with some documentary linking narration from time to time. Dana Andrews was never so subdued and soft-spoken as Gouzenko in this film, and Gene Tierney is remarkably self-effacing as the devoted wife and mother of an infant. She has no particularly interesting scenes. The really powerful performances in this film are by Berry Kroeger, in his first film appearance, as an insidious, swaggering and menacing mastermind of a Soviet espionage ring, and Eduard Franz as a Soviet major who 'just cannot take it any more' and turns into a drunk. The film is tense and gripping, and follows closely the real life events of this notorious story. June Havoc is effective in a minor role as the resident Soviet honeypot who tests the new staff with alcohol and seduction to see if they are indiscreet. The world inside the Soviet Embassy is convincingly and eerily depicted, a demi-monde and a half-life of people serving Stalin and the Party like grim automatons with dark faces and all humanity stripped out of them. This film gives a nice lesson in the realities of sordid power, and the hollowness of institutionalised betrayal. There are none so low as those who slither.
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