Friday, February 24, 2006

Mission To Moscow

The war party is constantly lamenting the failure of the media and Hollywood to get on board to support the war in Iraq. Some, like Thomas Sowell, wax nostalgic over conformity disguised as patriotism from the 1940s. I have seen such conformity taken to the extreme in the form of the 1943 Warner Brothers film, Mission to Moscow. It is a movie based on the experiences of Ambassador Joseph Davies. In the film, Davies (played by Walter Huston) comes to the USSR after a brief stay in Germany. During the brief stopover in Berlin, The ambassador talks to numerous Germans practically licking their chops at their coming feast of the European continent. Mrs. Davies remarks on the goose-stepping conformity of the Hitler Youth.

Davies tours the Soviet Union and sees heroic and productive factories and collective farms where workers are allowed to divide up the profits(!) after the state gets its cut. The only problems came from the traitorous saboteurs who were almost heroic in guilt at the trial where most of them eagerly confessed -- so great was their shame.

Only at the very end of his mission does Davies meet a kindly, avuncular Joe Stalin. Uncle Joe tells Davies that "reactionary elements" in France and England wish for a war between Germany and the USSR. Later, on his way back to America, Davies stops in England and tells Winston Churchill -- still a private citizen -- that if the democratic powers "continue to look down their noses" at Russia, they going to force Stalin into Hitler's arms.

The final segment of the movie shows Davies making rousing speeches denouncing "isolationists and defeatists" and calling America to the aid of Russia between shots of unctuous business and political leaders almost drooling at the prospect of profiting off of relations with Hitler's Europe claiming that war is none of our business.

Not surprisingly, the value of such propaganda was short-lived. Howard Koch, who wrote the screenplay (and also co-wrote Casablanca), was later blacklisted for his leftwing views; although at the time he was just doing his part to aid the war effort.

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