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"Mission to Moscow" was made at the behest of F.D.R. in order to garner more support for the Soviet Union during WWII. It was from the book by Joseph E. Davies, former U.S. Ambassador To Russia. The movie covers the political machinations in Moscow just before the start of the war and presents Stalin's Russia in a very favorable light. So much so, that the movie was cited years later by the House Un-American Activities Commission and was largely responsible for the screenwriter, Howard Koch being Blacklisted.Written by
E. Barry Bruyea <email@example.com>
According to the book "The Films of World War II" by Joe Morella, Edward Z. Epstein and John Griggs, this film "was extremely controversial in the United States, where it was attacked on the one hand as a whitewash of the Soviet regime and defended on the other as a fitting tribute to a gallant ally", while "in Russia some of Hollywood's conceptions of Russian life presented in 'Mission to Moscow' evoked laughter." See more »
Davies and the rest of the diplomatic corps are shown watching the 1938 May Day parade through Red Square. Some time later, at the farewell dinner being held in Davies's honor, Litvinov is handed a communique stating that Germany had just invaded and annexed Austria (the Anschluss). In fact Germany had taken over Austria on March 13, 1938, a full seven weeks before the May Day parade that in the film precedes the Anschluss. See more »
Mrs. Marjorie Davies:
[to Madame Molotov]
Well, I imagine that women are much the same the world over. They all want to please their men.
See more »
Opens with a card reading: We have the honor to present the former Ambassador from the United States to the Soviet Union, the Honorable Joseph E. Davies, who will address you prior to the showing of the film made from his important book, "Mission to Moscow". In the picture itself, Mr. Walter Huston portrays Mr. Davies during those vital years encompassed in his now significant report to this nation. And now, Mr. Davies: [Mr. Davies gives a presentation on the actual events leading up to these events, and to this film.] See more »
Among the comments here I don't see much recognition of the fact that this propaganda film was released at the height of World War II, when the battle against Nazis was focused on Stalingrad, which arguably was the crucial battle of the war in Europe.
The context of this film cannot be ignored or minimized. Propaganda films are morale films, and the omissions and distortions which have been cited in Mission to Moscow are beside the point. Of course Stalin was a monster before, during and after World War II. Of course Joseph E. Davies was a naif, and a pompous one at that. Perhaps that's why he only lasted a year as ambassador.
On one hand, there is an absolutely ludicrous review here, praising Mission to Moscow as dispelling the terrible calumnies against the great Soviet achievements. On the other hand, there are those on the opposite side who, though far more accurate about Stalin and about how this film whitewashes his atrocities, seem so rabid in their responses, they fail to understand, or conveniently ignore, that propaganda films as documentaries are more or less bull, and that it's stupid to criticize a propaganda film because it's a propaganda film.
What is interesting about Mission to Moscow is not what it is trying to say or do, which requires little insight to divine, but how well it does it. This is a Hollywood "A" film enlisted in the service of propaganda. Top cast, direction and production values should have made for a very strong message to 1943 American audiences, whom the government wanted to think of the war against Germany as "We're all in this together."
As to the outrage of Stalin's show trials, I think that the sinister, menacing demeanor of one of the great Hollywood heavies Victor Francen as prosecutor Vyshinsky, versus the rather meek, contemplative demeanor of the defendants, suggests that the film knows what's going on, even if Davies doesn't.
Yes, the relentless pro-Soviet propaganda is a bit hard to take for those who sit smugly in the light of hindsight. But if you look at Mission to Moscow as document rather than documentary, you will gain an insight into the kind of public mindset called for by our government at a crucial moment in our history.
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