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After Fred von Bergen, a German immigrant in America, is forced from his job by anti-German hysteria before the first world war, he and his friend Bob Wilson leave America and join the German air force. There, both men fall in love with ambulance driver Alida Hoffman. When America enters the war, Bob is caught between loyalty to his home country and the threat of execution for desertion and treason to Germany. It remains for his friend Fred to extricate him from the dilemma - but at what cost?Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In the late 1920s into the 1930s, quite a few films began re-thinking America's involvement in WWI. While the Germans had previously been described as monstrous, the post-war years brought a realization that the First World War was a crime against humanity and there were no 'good guys'....just victims of this accursed war. Films like "Ever In My Heart" (1933), "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930) and "Four Sons" (1928) now showed Germans in a very sympathetic light and they presented a much more realistic view of the war.
When the story begins, Fred is fired from his job because he's a German and there's a lot of anti-German sentiment in the USA*. After not begin able to find work, he decides to immigrate back to Germany---and his friend, Bob (Ben Lyon) goes with him even though he's not German. Both soon join the German army**. Soon they are transferred to the air corps, as they both are trained pilots.
Unfortunately, Bob makes a terrible pilot. He seems to think more of his German sweetie, Alida, than he does serving Germany. As a result of this relationship, Bob and Fred have a falling out...which makes little sense in light of Bob's actions leading up to this (quitting the USA and standing up for Fred repeatedly up until this time). He also is torn when the USA enters the war...will he keep serving Germany, go to prison for refusing to fight or will he try to go across enemy lines and join his American comrades?
This is an okay film.....and not nearly as impactful as the ones I mentioned above. This is for a few reasons I can think of right away...such as some bad acting here or there (with folks who couldn't approximate a German accent if their lives depended on it!), a muddled message (Bob, if you think about it, really WAS a traitorous sort of guy) and a finale pitting Bob against Fred which just seems ridiculous. Overall, watchable but a missed opportunity to be something more.
*It's hard to believe now, but in cities across the USA, there were anti-German riots and German immigrants WERE targeted for attacks in many places, such as Cincinnati and Milwaukee (primarily German cities, in fact). Additionally, famous German-Americans lost jobs in places like Chicago and Nashville. This was mirrored in countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
**Before the USA entered the war in the Spring of 1917, some Americans volunteered to fight in the war. The vast majority fought for the French or British, though some (like in this film) did fight for the Reich....so this story element isn't far-fetched. What IS far-fetched is that neither of the friends sound the least bit German! While it made sense for Bob not to speak German or have an accent...where is Fred's?! Plus, a few of the Germans in the film have very thick accents...yet others have almost none!!
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