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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Mortal Storm (1940)

In 1933 Germany as Hitler begins his rise to power, a family quickly finds itself taking sides: father against son, brother against sister, friend against friend, lover against lover as the dark clouds of the coming holocaust grow. With the sanctimonious voice over at the beginning of the film, I feared the worst. I needn't have. After that's quickly over, what we get is a powerful film about a family being swept up in the chaos of a poisonous political tract that overwhelms even its early followers. The film avoids the zealous excesses of the propaganda of most WWII films as the U.S. hadn't even entered the war when the film was made. Curiously, the film makers hedge about using the word Jew, using the word non-Aryan instead. The acting is quite good though it takes a huge leap to accept James Stewart as a young German farmer yet Robert Young is chillingly convincing as a fervent Nazi supporter. Directed with a firm hand by Frank Borzage all the way to its bleak ending. With the appealing Margaret Sullavan, Robert Stack, Dan Dailey, Maria Ouspenskaya, Bonita Granville, Ward Bond, Frank Morgan as the Jewish patriarch and Irene Rich as his gentile wife.

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