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The North Star (1943)

Passed | | Drama, Romance, War | 4 March 1944 (Mexico)
A Ukrainian village must suddenly contend with the Nazi invasion of June 1941.

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Writers:

Lillian Hellman (original story), Lillian Hellman (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 6 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne Baxter ... Marina Pavlov
Dana Andrews ... Kolya Simonov
Walter Huston ... Dr. Kurin
Walter Brennan ... Karp
Ann Harding ... Sophia Pavlov
Jane Withers ... Clavdia Kurin
Farley Granger ... Damian Simonov
Erich von Stroheim ... Dr. von Harden
Dean Jagger ... Rodion Pavlov
Eric Roberts ... Grisha Kurin
Carl Benton Reid ... Boris Simonov
Ann Carter ... Olga Pavlov
Esther Dale ... Anna Kurin
Ruth Nelson ... Nadya Simonov
Paul Guilfoyle ... Iakin
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Storyline

It's June, 1941 in a farming cooperative in the Soviet Socialist Republic of the Ukraine. Although the citizens of the cooperative hear about the atrocities of the war on their radios, they are on the most part not yet directly affected by it. It's the end of the school year, and some of the older youth are excited about their futures. Beyond that, a small group of those youths are looking most forward to their imminent vacation to Kiev, where they are planning to hike for the four or five days it takes to get there above their planned three days in the city itself. They include: Damian Terasa Simonov, who finished top of his class including getting a scholarship to study at the State University of Kiev in the fall; his girlfriend, Marina Pavlov, the two who will be separated for the year as she finishes her schooling and who plan eventually to reunite in Kiev not only for Marina to go to university as well but for the two to get married; Kolya Simonov, Damian's older, more worldly ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

spreading steel from the sky... shot from the tanks... shell from the half-track (rerelease title card) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Russian

Release Date:

4 March 1944 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Armored Attack! See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-edited) (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is one of the films deemed "subversive" by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in October 1947, at the height of the "Red Scare" era typified by the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The committee decided that, even though Russia was our ally against Nazi Germany in World War II--when this film was made--the movie's sympathetic portrayal of Russian peasants and guerrillas who were fighting off Nazi forces was an "endorsement" of Communism. Senator McCarthy wasn't elected until 1948. See more »

Goofs

As the group of children leaves town for Kiev, they are shown walking past the same house twice in succession. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
[the villagers flee their burning town, torched as part of the Russians scorched earth defense]
Marina Pavlova: Gone.
Sophia Pavlova, Rodion's wife: There'll be another some day.
Marina Pavlova: Yes. It will be different for us. Wars don't leave people as they were. All people will learn this and come to see that wars do not have to be. We'll make this the last war. We'll make a free world for all men. The earth belongs to us, the people, if we fight for it. And we will fight for it!
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1956, the film was sold to television and re-edited under the title "Armored Attack." 25 minutes were removed, including all references to the word "comrade," and with the help of voice-over narrations, turned the alleged pro-Communist piece into anti-Communist territory. See more »

Connections

Featured in Sprockets: Masters of Menace (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Chari Vari Rastabari
(uncredited)
Music by Aaron Copland
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywood does agitprop -- and succeeds
26 April 2004 | by nk_gillenSee all my reviews

In the early 1960's, when "The North Star" was being syndicated to local TV stations as part of their late-night fodder, the film was re-cut and booked under the title "Armored Attack." Thankfully, Lewis Milestone's classic has been re-released in its original form. I don't know if that says much about the political tolerance of contemporary American film-viewers, but "The North Star" is obviously propaganda -- yet clearly more anti-Nazi than pro-Communist. And while screenwriter Lillian Hellman's sentiments did lean Left, she, like Orwell, despised tyranny, no matter from what extreme of the political spectrum it appeared.

Much has been made of the folk-peasant musicale that dominates the first half-hour of the film by other posters to this site, so I'll dispense mention of it here. Suffice it to say, however, that from the first scene of violence -- a merciless daytime bombardment of civilians on a quiet Ukrainian country road -- the film gathers emotional strength. And when Anne Baxter, playing a schoolgirl, gazes for the first time upon the horrific vision of her school chums, now dead as the result of mechanized warfare, she states evenly, "We're not young anymore." And as the rest of the movie demonstrates, she means it. She and a few others escape into the forest, emerging now and then to engage in hit-and-run sabotage against the Nazi aggressors. The film builds to a climax in which Russian partisans astride horses attempt to take back their village from the better- equipped Germans, giving director Milestone an opportunity to reprise the long tracking shots of approaching figures that became his trademark visual motif.

When Samuel Goldwyn produced "The North Star," he pulled out all the stops. He enlisted James Wong Howe to photograph, William Cameron Menzies to design the production, and Aaron Copland to write the background score. The cast, besides Baxter, includes Dana Andrews, Farley Granger, Walter Huston, and, as the Nazi You Love to Hate, the legendary Erich Von Stroheim, as a German military doctor who compromises his professional oath through medical experimentation. Supplies of blood for the German army's wounded have dried up, so Dr. Von Stroheim orders the children of the village rounded up and brought to the local school, where he draws great quantities of blood from them -- so much so, that a few of the kids die from the process. Effective and highly dramatic, it certainly beats visions of the Hun boiling Belgian babies in oil.


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