Tuesday 30 October 2018

On DVD - David Hare enjoys Edward Dmytryk's HITLER'S CHILDREN (1943)

Otto Kruger (above) is Bad Nazi and the luscious Tim Holt (middle) in très sexy buzzcut and uniform is Good Nazi, with the ever gormless Kent Smith and friend (bottom) watching helplessly as the forces of evil mow down Bonita Granville and everyone else in sight who's decent in Edward Dmytryk's more than slightly camp Hitler's Children (RKO, 1943). 
Now released on a good quality Warner Archive DVD-R . It doesn't come near as close to the bone as Sirk's terrific Hitler's Madman with Carradine or indeed Lang and Brecht's superb Hangmen Also Die, both also released in 1943, for anything close to dramatic consistency or serious exploration. 
But this picture does showcase director Edward Dmytryk's highly resolved post-Weimar visual style and cutting. He stayed on at RKO to do "A" pictures after the war and came up with his best film there, Crossfire (1947) which forges anti-fascism with the psychopathy of an anti-Semite and, in the Richard Brooks original, a homophobe. 
Back here in Wartime Propaganda Land both acting and a really terrible screenplay by Emmet Lavery (from a book by Gregory Ziemer) never allows the movie to reach past its ultimate value as Gestapo Camp. In these days of appalling news breaking every day that’s good enough for me. 
Perhaps I enjoyed the movie more than I should have, given the events in Pittsburgh last weekend which was as horribly disturbing to me as the mass murder of the patrons in a Florida gay bar a couple of years previously. Hate crimes are so inherently connected to the rise of fascism, a new development now so present in what used to be democracies which have been taken over by psychotic big business and dead-weighted Fascist thugs like Trump. You need to be able to laugh at all those aspects which are inherently absurd, like the presumptions of racial or ethnic or Christian superiority. 
So I thank a director way back, who was a dedicated anti-fascist, sadly dragged into the HUAC muck of commie ratting, by another major historic American thug and role model for the current horror, Joe McCarthy.

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