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Shortly after the end of World War II, British Colonel Michael 'Hooky' Nicobar is assigned to a unit in the British Zone of Vienna. His duty is to aid the Soviet authorities to repatriate citizens of the Soviet Union, many of whom prefer not to return to their home country. Billeted in the convent run by Mother Auxilia, Nicobar, and his military aides Major John 'Twingo' McPhimister and Audrey Quail, become involved in the plight of a young ballerina who is trying to avoid being returned to Moscow. Nicobar's sense of duty is tested as he sees first hand the plight of the people he is helping return to the Soviet Union; his lack of religious faith is also shaken by his contact with the Mother Superior. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Russian colonel Louis Calhern is looking for prima ballerina Janet Leigh to take her back to the Soviet Union in post World War II Vienna in 1946. His quest is the heart of The Red Danube.
The Red Danube came out in 1949 and is set at the time when people thought it possible to keep the wartime Allies on the same page. That was not to be due to the differences in the two political systems that combined to defeat Hitler.
Walter Pidgeon is recently transferred to Vienna and gets an order to find her and turn her over to the Russians. He doesn't count on three things, his aide Peter Lawford falling for Janet, the formidable presence of Mother Superior Ethel Barrymore who is sheltering Leigh, and his own growing conscience about what he sees around him.
People would rather die than return to the worker's paradise that Communism has created. I mean literally, both here in the film and in real life back in the day. It's easy to dismiss The Red Danube as a Cold War inspired film. But the situations are way too real.
Best performance in the film is Ethel Barrymore, followed closely by Pidgeon as the British Colonel with a conscience. Pidgeon is a nonbeliever and his debates with Barrymore about religion are the best thing in the film.
Part of the film has Pidgeon getting Barrymore on a military plane to see the Pope in Rome during a conference concerning refugees. Now mind you this is Pius XII we are talking about who before and as Pope never quite saw the danger Hitler was to the church that Stalin was.
But I'm willing to bet that seeing Ethel Barrymore delineate the character of the Mother Superior this was a woman who walked the Christian walk as well. I'm even willing to bet she probably sheltered a few Jews during the holocaust as well.
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