Comrade X (1940) Poster

(1940)

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Wait for the tanks
gleywong27 January 2003
In the days when actresses had genuine accents that put a lilt in their speech, Hedy Lamarr, like Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, had refinement and intelligence, and could portray "foreigners" from any number of countries. Here, Hedy is supposed to be Russian, and with a light touch, too. She makes a charming foil to beefy Clark Gable, who plays his usual role as the macho-male with a wink in his eye covering a heart of gold. Their chemistry is not quite as magical as that in "It Happened One Night," with Claudette Colbert (who had the softer edge and mysterious sex appeal that truly complemented Gable's), or even his pairings with the brassy blonde with the Brooklyn accent, but there are a number of scenes in this farce that I have not seen equalled elsewhere: namely the escape scene in the Soviet tank. Before the age of graphic simulation, the prop men really had to come up with a phalanx of Soviet-style tanks -- unless they used miniatures, and to see them "chase" Gable, with Hedy at the wheel, is almost on a par with a Chaplin or Keaton routine. The miming of the Soviet tank army is also hilarious.
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9/10
Purging as we go
bkoganbing25 September 2005
With the success MGM had with Ninotchka another lampooning of the Soviet Union seemed a natural. So the following year while the Hitler-Stalin pact was still active, MGM came up with Comrade X.

Comrade X is a pseudonym for some journalist who is sending uncensored stories out about the real Soviet Union. It happens to be Clark Gable and the whole Soviet secret police apparatus is after him.

But a valet at a hotel where the foreign correspondents stay played by Felix Bressart comes upon his secret. He offers a deal to Gable, he won't turn him in if Gable convinces Bressart's daughter Hedy Lamarr to leave the Soviet Union with him and come to America.

Easier said than done because Lamarr is as committed a Communist as Greta Garbo was in Ninotchka. So like Melvyn Douglas in Ninotchka, Gable's got his work cut out for him.

Comrade X's humor is a little more broad than Ninotchka's was. It even got a few good knocks in on Nazi Germany with Sig Ruman playing a German correspondent. The humor about the Soviets concerns what a dangerous thing it was to rise in the ranks of the party. Remember this was also the time of Stalin purging all kinds of people out of the party. Something that didn't stop until Hitler broke the non-aggression pact in 1941.

And Hedy Lamarr is sure no Garbo, but she acquits herself nicely in the role of the fuzzy headed idealist.

Gable, Lamarr, and Bressart get caught up in the internal politics of the Soviet Union and have to flee the country. What happens to them is the balance of the film and it is hilarious.

One of the best films done by both of the stars. Grand comedy.
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8/10
Rivalries in a Communist "Utopia"
theowinthrop13 August 2006
Ernst Lubtisch's classic comic statement about Communist Russia, NINOTCHKA, came out in 1939. Whether it "influenced" the production (also by MGM) of COMRADE X or not I could not say. Certainly there are similarities between the comedies. Lubitsch set his comedy in Paris, where a Communist trade mission is living it up, being corrupted by an émigré Russian noble (Melvin Douglas) so he can try to retrieve jewelry that the trade mission is using as collateral. The Russian government does not trust the three men sent, so they send a fiercer ideologue (Greta Garbo in the title role) who starts straightening out the mission, until she falls for Douglas's charm. In the end she is lured back (with her three associates) to the west and away from the Soviet paradise.

NINOTCHKA had Felix Bressart and Sig Ruman in the cast as two of the members of the trade mission. Comments on this thread point out that in the 1930s "accents" were fairly interchangeable in Hollywood, so that the Swedish Garbo (and later the Austrian Lamarr) became Russian. So did German Ruman and German - Jewish Bressart (who would also play a Hungarian in THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER).

Unlike NINOTCHKA, COMRADE X is set inside that nightmare land, Stalinist Russia. Somebody is sending out unofficial (but thoroughly correct) news stories showing the crimes being committed in Russian by the government against the people (i.e. the purges), as well as the idiotic projects and waste mismanagement illustrative of how poorly the government is as effective government. This is being resented by the Presidium, who is represented by Oscar Homlolka (Commissar Vasiliev). Please note that Homolka's make-up makes him look a tremendous bit like one Joseph Stalin. At a public funeral covered by the press court, someone tries to shoot Vasiliev (who does all he can to hide the assassination plot). Mac Thompson (Clark Gable), the American reporter, manages to snap a photo of an odd site - a bearded man who a moment before the shooting opened up the lid of the coffin and popped out. This bearded gentlemen turns out to be one Michael Bastakoff (Vladimir Sokoloff), a rival of Vasiliev for power. He is made to look a tremendous bit like one Leon Trotsky.

Get the message from Hollywood here? Vasiliev's agents have been trying to pin down the news leaks, and has narrowed it to two figures: Thompson, and one Emil Von Hofer (Sig Ruman) who is the news representative from Nazi Germany. Ruman manages to demonstrate it ain't him, so (despite Gable's breezy denials) Vasiliev believes it is the American.

Gable has a close friend in Moscow, one Ygor Yahupitz (Felix Bressart) who is his sometimes valet. Ygor's daughter is Galubcha (Hedy Lamarr) who is a streetcar operator. Ygor wants Gable to try to smuggle Galubcha out of the Soviet Union into the U.S. And the film shows (among other things, including overcoming Galubcha's fierce belief in the Communist ideal) Gable eventually saving both the girl and her father.

The comedy is quite amusing, even if it lacks the style and grace of the Lubitsch touch of the first film. But it certainly comments on the atmosphere within Russia in a way that NINOTCHKA failed to do so. The centering of the comedy in Moscow, the suggestiveness of a Stalin - Trotsky rivalry clone, and the heavy control over information is certainly more realistic than Douglas' being elegant and eloquent about the beauties of Paris.

One more thing to keep in mind is a scandal which is on target with this film, and which (in 1940) finally began to raise eyebrows. In the early 1930s the New York Times had a reporter named Walter Duranty in Moscow. He turned out to be a fantastically well informed reporter in the Soviet Union, and came out with interviews and articles that were tremendously informative. In fact, he would win the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Moscow. But as time passed, Duranty's methods and sources were heavily questioned. He also tended to take an official line about the Purge Trials (i.e., that Bukhanin, Radek, Zinoviev, Tuchochevsky, and the other hundreds and thousands of victims were all actual traitors against the Stalinist regime). After the signing of the non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939, the Times became very suspicious of Duranty, and replaced him. The quality of the articles became very much more even handed. Duranty was later revealed to be a Stalinist agent. Interestingly enough, the Pulitzer Committee has repeatedly rejected requests to take back their award from Duranty's heirs as his work was pure propaganda. So the issue about the control over the news from Russia was very, very real.
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Lamarr, a superb comedian
ilprofessore-130 March 2008
Who would have guessed that the usually wooden but dazzlingly beautiful Hedy Lamarr could be so delightfully funny, adorable and charming as she is in this Ninotchka role. It's a pity that she was rarely --if ever again-- given another opportunity to play this sort of anything-goes screwball comedy. Hedy here is as real and believable as Carole Lombard at her best. The script written by Ben Hecht ("Nothing Sacred"), Charlie Lederer ("The Front Page" screenplay) and the uncredited Herman Mankiewicz ("Citizen Kane") is a bizarre hard-boiled political satire ending with a lengthy and totally absurd slapstick Russian tank chase through the woods and across the river into Rumania. It looks as if it came straight out of a Max Sennett movie. Gable is his usual tough and handsome self, wonderfully adept with the throw-away gags he is given. The rest of the cast is rounded out with some of the best European character actors then living in Hollywood --the Germans Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart and the Viennese Oskar Homoloka—- all playing Russians and Germans. As an added bonus there is the first on-screen appearance by the rarely seen Berlin-born actress, Natasha Lytess ("Olga"), best remembered now as Marilyn Monroe's first acting coach way before her Lee Strasberg days.
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7/10
fun pairing of Gable and Lamarr
blanche-21 April 2008
Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr star in "Comrade X," a 1940 comedy from MGM also starring Eve Arden, Felix Bressart and Oscar Homolka. Gable and Arden are American journalists in Russia while the Russians search frantically for "Comrade X," a reporter sending out uncensored stories to the United States. One man knows the identity of Comrade X - a bumbling valet in the hotel where many of the reporters stay (Felix Bressart). He fears his outspoken daughter is in danger of being purged by the Russians like so many and blackmails Comrade X into getting her out of the country. Well, we've known from the beginning who Comrade X is - who else - and he reluctantly agrees to his assignment - reluctantly until he gets a look at the daughter (Lamarr), who is driving a streetcar using the name Theodore. Women can't drive streetcars.

Everyone is very good in this film, and Lamarr's staggering beauty and Gable's macho man are pluses. The supporting cast is great - Homolka is a government official who says his predecessor "met with an unfortunate accident" - as many of them do throughout the film.

I have to agree with one of the posters here - the scene with the tanks is absolutely priceless, particularly when you realize that films didn't have the mechanisms for "special effects" as they do today.

Lots of fun at the expense of good old Mother Russia.
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9/10
American reporter falls for Communist in 1940 Russia
Jimm Budd4 July 2006
The film fascinates because it was made in 1940, just when WWII was getting started. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia had just divided Poland between them and neither Nazis nor Communists much admired by most Americans. Our hero, played by Clark Gable, is forced by the Soviets to share his hotel room with a Nazi journalist. The Nazi is a caricature, as are the Soviets, who are shown ordering assassinations a¿of anyone they dislike. At one point the Gable character creates a diversion by shouting out that Germany has just invaded Russia. He is, of course, shouting a year too soon, but the reaction is interesting. The plot itself is foolish, but the glimpse into the past, with references to the Brooklyn Dodgers murdering the Reds (of Cincinatti) makes the movie great fun.
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hilarious
bruno-327 May 1999
I thought the chemistry between Hedy and Clark were great. She really came off as a very good commedienne. I thought the lines were real clever and that ending...wow...all those tanks. I enjoyed this movie more than the Ninotchka.
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8/10
Funny movie
Linent12 July 2013
Clark Gable was mostly known for his he-man; lady-killer roles but he did some excellent comedy and this movie is a little-known gem. There were some great lines, too. "Well, there's some good news and some bad news. Last week all the towels were stolen. But on the other hand the water wasn't running so nobody needed the towels. Everything balances." And "Communists have ideas, but they found out you can't run a government with everybody running around having ideas". That's actually pretty true, too! People in government with "ideas" are the bane of ANY country. Loved the scene at the cemetery where the funeral procession passes by a podium carrying a coffin on its shoulders and suddenly the "corpse" sticks his head & hand out of the coffin and takes a shot at a political enemy. Curiously, the movie predicts Germany declaring war on Russia. Which in fact happened shortly after the film came out.

Funny movie - the "Kaputski Cemetery"? Excellent!!!!
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7/10
Tanks a lot!
MCL11502 July 2006
I came in on "Comrade X" during the climatic tank chase scene. I don't know about the film as a whole, but the tank scene was wonderfully done. If it were done today it wouldn't be all that impressive. You'd be like "Hmmm, nice computer work!" But in 1940 it had to be done with actual existing props. So what you have is a swarm of "real" tanks chasing Gable's tank. On command they all stop, spin about and race in the opposite direction. Excellent cartoon like direction and fantastic execution of that direction. If you're a fan of cartoon like sequences done as live action then this film, or at least the final sequences thereof, are for you. Someone just tell me how they did this back in '40! One of the finest examples I can think of a great bit of work stuck somewhere in an almost forgotten film.

I did go back and research the special effects for this film. They were done by none other than A. Arnold Gillespie who won four Academy Awards out of thirteen nominations. Besides "Comrade X", he worked on such little films like "The Wizard of Oz" and "Ben-Hur". As for "Comrade X" a true case of an industry giant being handed what had to be a small assignment considering his considerable talents. The studio system works!
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6/10
Average screwball comedy contains pristine production values and a gorgeous Hedy Lamarr…
Peter Andres3 December 2006
While I'm neither a Clark Gable fan nor a fan of screwball comedies, I am a young Hedy Lamarr fan. This is the second and final film Gable and Lamarr made together, their first being the tedious social melodrama BOOM TOWN (1940). While more entertaining than BOOM TOWN, COMRADE X is still a typical MGM film that's worth watching only for its stars.

The nonsensical plot concerns Gable as an American newspaper correspondent trying to help his pro-Communist Russian bride (Lamarr) and her father (a goofy Felix Bressart) out of the nightmarish Soviet Union. The film has a comedic tank chase scene with excellent special effects that still hold up well today. Also credible is the fine supporting cast in the film, which includes Sig Ruman as a bumbling Nazi German newspaper correspondent, Eve Arden as Gable's wisecracking partner, and Oskar Homolka as an intimidating Soviet commissar who's a dead ringer for Joseph Stalin. One minor element I liked was that the purging of Soviet officers—although ignored by the outside world at the time—was surprisingly accurate here. As usual with the MGM films of the period, the production design is lush.

However, it is Hedy Lamarr who saves the film for me. She is perfectly cast as a staunch but charming Communist who speaks in an amusing monotonous Russian accent, despite the fact that she doesn't appear until the first 25 minutes of the film. Hedy's singing voice isn't bad either, especially while singing a Soviet tune with her fellow Communists in one scene. Not only is she perfectly cast but absolutely gorgeous here: in one scene, she stunningly appears in a revealing, slim white nightgown and says to Clark, "I feel a little confused, but I'm glad you like it." No doubt she was regarded as the most beautiful woman in films at the time—she's impossibly lovely in that certain outfit, as well as in a Soviet uniform.

My favorite funny moments include a brief scene in which Hedy appears in the bulky "parachute" of a Russian nightgown and gives a silly stare at Clark, an exciting car chase through the streets of Moscow near the end of the film, and a hilarious feud between Clark and Hedy in their rundown hotel room. During the feud, Hedy picks up a chair, threatens to hit Clark with it, and spits on his foot. When Clark convinces her to be reasonable, Hedy throws down the chair and exclaims, "All right! I lost my head! I'm behaving like a child!" Hedy approaches a telephone and begins to contact the secret police. Clark then secretly yanks the telephone cable out of its socket while Hedy is speaking to the operator in Russian. Hedy then notices the torn cable, throws the telephone at Clark, and swears loudly and rapidly in Russian while trying to beat him with her fists. It's a very amusing, chaotic scene.

Good fun if you're into Soviet history or a fan of Gable or Lamarr, but nowhere near as memorable or as funny as my personal favorite comedy, PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985). At least this film was better than the other Soviet-themed film, REDS (1981).
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6/10
Amusing comedy with overtones of "Ninotchka"...
Neil Doyle3 April 2008
CLARK GABLE and HEDY LAMARR share the screen in a romantic comedy along the lines of "Ninotchka", which made such a success for Greta Garbo. Obviously, Louis B. Mayer hoped COMRADE X would do for Hedy what the other film did for Garbo's image--and to some extent, it did.

It's not as sophisticated and witty as the Garbo film, but Hedy plays a dedicated Soviet woman who thinks that an American that she is attracted to (CLARK GABLE) shares the same philosophy. FELIX BRESSART is her scatterbrained father, EVE ARDEN is an American newspaper woman and SIG RUMAN is a loyal Nazi foreign correspondent in Russia who is just as confused as everyone else as to the identity of "Comrade X".

It's a good role for Hedy, playing her role very much the way Cyd Charisse played the Russian gal in "Silk Stockings", and with a comic flair that she seldom exhibited in any of her MGM films, even the so-called comedies. Gable is more or less himself as the cynical newspaper man who ends up taking his bride (Lamarr) to America after they've had a few escapades that have the Soviet authorities chasing them all over the hillsides in tanks--the film's most amusing moments.

One of the funniest performances comes from NATASHA LYTESS, as Olga, a secretary who tells Gable she's a spy. Her drunken antics are a highlight (she can't see a thing without her glasses). Lytess was Marilyn Monroe's acting coach for several years, the superstar being dependent on her for her every move during her early films at Fox.
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10/10
The greatest tank chase on film, OR – They lose more commissars to traffic accidents
SimonJack22 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If I were a Russian in 1940, with all the changes of commissars this film has, I would think that we Russians were awfully bad drivers. We keep losing so many commissars to traffic accidents. Well, whether it's traffic accidents, or a tank chase, or a secretary spy who succumbs to too much vodka, or a long walk from the trolley line back to Moscow – "Comrade X" is one very funny movie. It is another very lively, hilarious spoof of Soviet Russia. And, it joins another excellent spoof of the same genre by MGM just a year before – "Ninotchka."

The settings for the two films are quite different, but the intended political ridicule is the same. And, they go about it in different ways. "Ninotchka" is a masterpiece of dialog, with running puns, metaphors and other witticisms. It has great acting as well in the expressions of its characters. "Comrade X" does not slay us with dialog, but instead mixes dialog with numerous situations. And those lend themselves very well to slapstick, screwball and goofy antics.

One reviewer panned the big tank scene as silly. Of course it is. But, silly and goofy help make some comedies great. And the tank chase in this movie builds to a fitting climax for this film. It must surely be able to lay claim to being the greatest tank chase every filmed.

The stars in "Comrade X" are all great. Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr play perfectly off each other as McKinley Thompson and Theodore. Did you catch her explanation for why she had a male name? Eve Arden does a hilarious job as American correspondent Jane Wilson, and Felix Bressart is very good as Vanya, Theodore's father. Other supporting actors are equally good. Sig Ruman is even better than his usual character of the insulted German, Emil Von Hofer. And, Vladimir Sokoloff is very funny as the demure communist, Michael Bastakoff, who was caught in the act of "committing a traffic accident." But Oskar Homolka stands out for his role as Vasiliev. His every line seemed to be delivered with a twinkle of humor in his eye.

I think the entire cast must have had a ball making this film. The movie was released in the U.S. on Dec. 13, 1940, and in England on April 28, 1941. The Brits may well have appreciated as much the jabs at Nazi Germany in here. One of my favorite scenes is in the Kremlin Press Room. Jane Wilson (Eve Arden) says, "Probably the government has decided that from now on all foreign correspondents must be blindfolded and led around by seeing-eye-dogs. 'Anything to keep the truth out of print' is their motto." A nervous Von Hofer (Sig Ruman) says: "Please, Miss Wilson, do not speak for me. I am not complaining against the Russian government." Wilson responds, "My dear, Von Hofer, a German journalist is not in a position to complain against the absence of truth anywhere."

Some other funny exchanges include this pick up from the above. A British journalist says, "Right you are Miss Wilson." Von Hofer says to him, "Excuse me!?" The Brit responds, "With pleasure, old boy." And Wilson concludes: "A fine world press we are. We can't even send out a weather report without having it censored."

Vasiliev (Homolka) announces to the press room: "The former head of the press department was the victim last night of a traffic accident. I'm speaking at his grave at the Kapulski Cemetery at 3 o'clock." Thompson (Gable) says to Vanya (Bressart): "So the deal is, I get an obstinate lady motorman out of a country she doesn't want to leave?" Later, he is talking with Theodore (Lamarr), and she says: "I read in Pravda, 10 million people starved to death last winter in the United States, and there was nobody to bury them." Thompson says, "They don't bury people in the United States. They burn them." Theodore: "A nation of thieves." Thompson: "Yes! Ever hear of the Brooklyn Dodgers?" Theodore: "No!" Thompson: "They get murdered every day." Theodore: "Well then, what for?" Thompson: "For making some little errors." Theodore: "There must be a revolution soon in America."

A newsman says to Vasiliev: "As God is my judge." Vasiliev says, "There is no God." The newsman: "Well, then whoever is in his place." Another person says to Vasiliev: "I can bring you witnesses that I never saw her before." Vasiliev to Thompson, "You have me at a disadvantage. I'll lay my cards under the table." Thompson, "As they say in my country, you can count me out." When they are thrown into prison, Thompson asks, "What are they singing?" Vanya says, "Same thing they always sing in prison – we are free." He yawns and says, "Oh, I'd like to get some sleep before I die." Bastakoff to Thompson: "My predecessor was the victim last night of a traffic accident." Thompson: "Is he expected to recover?" Bastakoff: "No, he caught pneumonia."

Thompson, to Theodore: "What is love – an accident?" Theodore: "Gorsky says love is the failure of the mind to understand nature." Still later, the two are talking, and Gable describes the difficulty taking people away from hot dogs, boogie woogie, etc. Theodore says, "The problem of taking the masses away from boogie woogie is a difficult one." Later, when they have crossed a border river into Rumania in a tank, the Rumanian home guard flees in front of the tank. Thompson says, "You know, it's going to be tough to surrender to these people. You've got to catch them first."

"Comrade X" is another great laugh fest that's guaranteed to entertain. It's a must for any serious film library.
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7/10
Tanks A Lot MGM
DKosty1237 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Upon viewing this one, I think MGM originally had this film slotted as an A Feature, but then needed a B Feature with a lot of names to support another A Feature and decided to rush this one to the theaters.

With a luscious Hedy LaMar and Clark Gable, the cast here features a lot of good supporting actors as well. The writing for the script features some solid writers but I think the script was written on an assembly line for pay as this crew wrote many better films. King Vidor is always a solid Director and he proves so here.

Considering this is 1940, the actor who looks like Joe Stalin is quite a startling figure. Hedy's wardrobe appears to have come from some of MGM's better clothes. While MGM put money into this, the propaganda and comedy mix is at times uneven.

Still, for the cast it is a worthwhile effort, and the tank sequence is much more advanced than many of the war films that are yet to be made.
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6/10
Hedy Lamarr Month
lastliberal30 March 2008
It is Hedy Lamarr Month at TCM and they get a jump on it early with this screwball comedy that really show Ms. Lamarr's beauty.

She was not a great actress, but she had a face that rivaled Helen of Troy. Paired here with Clark Gable in a satire of the Communist government in Russia, it was an enjoyable movie.

Walter Reisch, who got an Oscar for the original Titanic, got a nomination for this story. His story was ably turned into a fine script by Ben Hecht (Notorious, Underworld, The Scoundrel, with assistance by Herman J. Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane) and Charles Lederer (the original Ocean's Eleven).

Directed by five-time Oscar nominee King Vidor (War and Peace, The Crowd), it was a fine introduction to Lamarr.
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6/10
A lesser attempt than Ninotchka (1939), starring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr
jacobs-greenwood16 October 2016
Walter Reisch, who contributed to the screenplay (and shared an Academy Award nomination in that category) for Ninotchka (1939), earned a Best Writing, Original Story Oscar nomination for this similar comedy drama starring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr (in lieu of Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas). Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer wrote the screenplay for this one, which was directed and co- produced by King Vidor.

Gable plays an American journalist, McKinley 'Mac' Thompson, in communist Russia who successfully, and secretly, gets his stories and photographs through the government censors. He's referred to as Comrade X, and obviously the Russians would like nothing more than to capture and execute him for these traitorous activities. Lamarr plays Golubka, aka Theodore Yahupitz, a 'cold' native and party idealist who's not only a streetcar conductor, but also the daughter of Mac's friendly, though seemingly clueless valet Vanya, aka Igor Yahupitz (Felix Bressart).

Vanya discovers Mac's secret camera and true identity and, because he wants to protect his daughter from the instability inherent in the system during that time, he 'forces' him to agree to take Golubka out of the country for her own safety. Bressart and Sig Ruman, who plays a German journalist Emil Von Hofer, were both in Ninotchka (1939). Oskar Homolka plays Commissar Vasiliev, who's desperately trying to catch Comrade X while at the same time keep from being assassinated by others seeking a power grab. Eve Arden plays Jane Wilson, another American journalist, who'd had prior relations with Mac. Vladimir Sokoloff plays Michael Bastakoff, the underground communist leader that Golubka idolizes. Keye Luke appears uncredited as another journalist in the frustrated World Press corps.

The comedy is not nearly as good as the aforementioned film and is much more screwball, in general, with fewer of its political jabs finding their target. Though both Gable and Lamarr are both as watchable as usual, there's no real chemistry between them even as he tries to 'crack' her cold committed demeanor.

Natasha Lytess plays a silly Russian secretary, Olga Milanava, who gets drunk. Mac pretends to be a communist in order to convince Golubka to leave for the United States with him (e.g. to persuade Americans to join the party); the two even get married!

The movie gets even more off track when Mac, Vanya and Golubka, escaping from Bastakoff who has now successfully replaced (executed) Commissar Vasiliev, find themselves in an elaborate, overlong and climactic, tank chase!
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6/10
Astonishingly Bad
plaidpotato26 January 2003
Hysterical anti-commie propaganda. A loony and implausible plot. A howlingly bad performance by Hedy Lamarr, trying to do a Garbo-as-Ninotchka impression, though sounding more like a particularly inept porn star monotoning through her lame dialogue. Clark Gable is stiff and goofy as ever, though still strangely charming as ever. He hasn't an ounce of chemistry with Hedy Lamarr, though it would be hard for anyone to make sparks with that sack of wet--though beautiful--cement. There are a few genuinely and intentionally hilarious moments. The tank chase was classic.

I should probably rate this film a 4/10, because that's honestly about what it deserves. But it was so ludicrous, so breathtaking in its absurdity, it made for oddly compelling viewing. Kudos to King Vidor for allowing this film to be bad, because it would have been horrible if he'd tried to make it good, given the raw materials he had to work with.

6/10
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7/10
Extremely dopey but still a lot of fun
MartinHafer4 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, it's time to turn off your brain so you can enjoy a movie! This really isn't meant as an insult, as I really liked this Clark Gable film once I stopped worrying about how ridiculous the plot was and just watched it for the pure sake of enjoyment. Trust me--if you think too much while watching this film, you'll probably get a headache! Clark is an American newspaper correspondent in the USSR in 1940. At this point in history just before the US entered WWII, the attitude in the US was was starting to turn against Nazi Germany and we still tended to laugh at the stupidity and backwardness of the Soviets. This was a BRIEF transition period, as all films made from 1942-1945 suddenly portrayed the USSR as our wonderful and loyal friend and the Russian people as decent and brave since they were now our allies! Well, none of that is evident here. The Soviet government was made up of stupid, ruthless evil men in this film (instead of the smart and ruthless evil men like real life). And, Clark's job was to easily outwit the government and smuggle out articles under the pen name of "Comrad X"--decrying the evils of Communism.

All is going well until a lowly hotel worker, Felix Bressart, announces to Clark that he knows he is Comrad X and will report him to the government unless he agrees to smuggle out his daughter (played by Hedy Lamarr). The problem is that Hedy is a dyed-in-the-wool Communist and supporter of Soviet expansion! So, Clark lies to her and tells her he wants to take her to America so she can convince everyone that the Soviet system is best! She soon realizes he's lying, but after her mentor, Bastakoff, tells her to marry him, she does (after only knowing him a few hours).

The party Commissar Vasiliev (Oskar Homolka) in charge of the foreign press calls Clark in to his office just before Clark can escape to America. he has found Clark's hidden camera and thinks he might be Comrad X, so he has Clark, Hedy and Felix imprisoned. Soon, a hundred of so of Bastakoff's supporters are jailed with them and are soon executed. With only the three of them left, Clark decides to sell the Commissar information--that Bastakoff was behind an assassination attempt on Valiliev. But, when Clark is taken to see the commissar, he finds it is now Bastakoff! Vasiliev has met with an "accident" and Clark knows the same will happen to him and his new family unless they escape. So, he makes a deal with Bastakoff to give him an incriminating photo, but quickly dodges all of the Russian secret police, police and army with his wife and father-in-law! In the end, they sneak into a tank that's aboard a train headed for maneuvers. It turns out the tank is the general's tank and all the other tanks follow them--across the border into Romania! The Romanians run in terror thinking they've been invaded, but all is right in the end.

If you think all this stuff is pretty familiar, think back one year to another MGM film, NINOTCHKA. In this film, Garbo plays almost the same role Hedy plays and the movies are extremely similar in tone. I would have to say that COMRAD X is more silly fun, but NINOTCHKA is definitely a much better film. See them both if you'd like--I did.
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8/10
watch it for camp
cheeseplease4 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A ridiculous and campy spoof. I initially mistook it for face value and thought it was a screwball comedy. And I was disappointed; what a horrible movie! I first thought. But really, when Hedy places Theodor, an intellectual naive communist girl who freely kisses stranger Clark, a boozing reporter who's actually Comrade X, it's gotta be camp! The tank scene is a classic, special effects and all; I think Hedy driving a tank is about as funny as Hedy driving a fire engine in "My Favorite Spy." Clark reliably plays his usual character. This is a movie that gets better with each viewing; good screenplay, direction, acting, and production. Part of me thinks it would be even better if Walter Reisch countered Hedy's uniform with Clark in a dress; what a tank escape that would have been!
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6/10
Great leading roles (Gable and Lamarr) but awkward writing and jokes
secondtake11 November 2016
Comrade X (1940)

This starts stiffly, with some clichés quickly pasted forward to get the plot to fit the news at the time. It's set in Moscow, and WWII is under way. The Germans are evil but more to the point, the Soviets are not to be trusted. Eve Arden, in her usual delivery, is the saving grace, but it still feels forced.

Thankfully Clark Gable shows up. If he isn't always his best when he's trying to be a comic actor (he's really funny when he's a straight actor with funny lines), he still brings the screen to life. In fact, as the movie continues an absurd (and not very well written) satire of the Soviet Union, Gable holds it in check by his nonchalance and usual earthy delivery.

Of course, the Americans in Russia are the only sensible people there. It doesn't feel like a propaganda film, but the point of view is so limited (and one-sided) there isn't much balance. But it's a comedy, and director King Vidor is known for competance if not comic brilliance.

Hedy Lamarr makes a stiff Russian with a terrible accent. (She was Austrian by birth.) The chemistry between Lamarr and Gable is comfortable but the writing holds it back. And there is the biggest mystery here—Ben Hecht was one of the writers, and he's normally a bright spot.

So this has some good credentials but stumbles along, mostly because of obvious jokes that haven't worn well over the decades.
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3/10
Comrade X- Mysteriously Miserable *1/2
edwagreen4 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Clark Gable and Hedy La Marr starred in this awful mess.

This is certainly no Ninotchka, even with its anti-Communist theme. The film is just awful.

It would have been funnier had they managed to make more fun of the Nazis in it. I realize that the film came out in 1940 and since we weren't at war with the beasts as yet, the film board probably wanted to cool things down.

The ending becomes a ridiculous tank chase and becomes very silly after a while.

The Commies come and go and knock each other off as if it's nothing. Even though it was so true, it was done film wise in such a boring way. The idea that the poet philosopher was a true phony who went on to kill his supporters was not adequately explained.

A year after "Gone With the Wind" and Clark Gable had a bomb with this film!
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3/10
Surprisingly Bad for a Top Class MGM Movie
Man9920426 October 2015
This movie should have been brilliant - it features Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr. Directed by the usually amazing King Vidor from a screenplay by Ben Hecht. It had everything going for it....

I was stunned by how disappointing BAD this movie turned out to be.

The central problem is the script, which is sub par - especially for an MGM production with their A List Actors. The script is preposterous from beginning to end. It makes little to no sense. And by the time the end comes, you are grateful it was such a short film.

The high point of the movie is a "Military Ballet' in the last few minutes of the film.

Clark Gable is normally one of my all time favorite actors. He is very disappointing in this movie. There is a reason Gable did not do comedies. While he can toss off a witty line with the best of them, he lacks the timing to successfully pull off the comedic demands of this role.

Hedy Lamarr is horribly miscast as Russian Trolley Car driver. She does little more in this movie than "glow" in her close ups, and spout lines about how superficial beauty is. She totally lacks the sparkle which is present in her other films. La Marr appears to be heavily medicated in most of her scenes.

Is this a bad movie" Yes indeed. It is probably one of the worst movies Gable ever made. But, you should still watch it.
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8/10
Film historians have singled out this flick as the . . .
Edgar Allan Pooh4 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
. . . "beginning of the end" for the movie studio known as "M-G-M." At a time when Warner Bros. was heroically churning out Beacon of Democracy features such as CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY, rival film production company MGM was striving to please the "Third Reich's" beloved Fuhrer with such party line fare as COMRADE X, since Germany was such a financially important market for the money boys at the so-called "Billionaire's Studio." In the short term, MGM's anti-Allies screed compelled what was then called "The U.S. War Department" to seize editorial control of EVERY American movie production company, dictating the minutest aspects of war-time film scripts with reams of red tape rules and regulations. In the long term, of course, MGM was relegated into becoming the tiny corner of Warner Bros. that it is Today. COMRADE X, unlike the famed home movie of Der Fuhrer's Videographer Leni Riefenstahl (TRIUMPH OF THE WILL) did NOT win a top Oscar (via the sort of rigged elections for which MGM itself was notorious), but like TRIUMPH it is deviously entertaining because Satan knows that you can trap more souls with honey than vinegar. Despite MGM's ridicule, Russia sacrificed 100 times as much as the U.S. in terms of lives and other resources to destroy MGM's Nazi buddies, with the "Eastern Front" outweighing the effect of ten "D-Day" invasions.
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7/10
An anti-Communist comedy
rickrudge31 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Comrade X (1940)

Just before we got into World War II, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had signed a non- aggression pact. Mac Thompson (Clark Gable) is a foreign correspondent who has been sneaking out uncensored news out of Soviet Russia. The secret police are suspicious of him, but it's the hotel's valet, Igor Yahupitz (Felix Bressart) who knows that it's Mac. He tells Mac that if he can smuggle his daughter, Theodore (Hedy Lamarr) out of the Soviet Union, into America, he won't tell anybody.

The fly in the ointment is that Theodore is a loyal Communist and, just like in Ninotchka (1939), Mac has got to convince her to leave her beloved country and go with him, all while trying to stay away from the Commissars. Of course all of the upper ranking Soviet officers are worried about being killed off in Stalin's Purge.

King Vidor directed this fast-paced anti-communist comedy with a screenplay written by Ben Hecht. Jane Wilson (smart-mouthed Eve Arden) is one of my favorite characters, also the Nazi correspondent Emil Von Hofer (Sig Ruman) is an easy target of ridicule.
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7/10
Anti-Commie Propaganda fun
nomoons1112 September 2011
This one was a total surprise. Just a real fun time watchin this one. It almost felt like watchin "Airplane" with all the stereotyped Russian/Communist segments in this film.

Clark Gable is a gem in this one (as he is in most of his films). Hedy Lamarr is the same as a staunch Commie streetcar driver. I can't tell you how many commie stereotyped bits in this film their are but they're almost all funny. I mean ridiculousness abound. After the first few minutes you know not to take this film seriously.

It goes to show that Hollywood and the U.S. were anti-communist way before the HUAC hearings. Just watch this one and laugh. I know I did.
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