Wednesday, August 06, 2003


There was much potential here for an interesting movie, but the B-level budget and overriding propaganda concerns sort of sink the material. The film's frame is a car-pool ride by six people to their war manufacturing job. The co-workers have never really gotten to know each other very well, and the mild-mannered driver admits to the rest that, in conversations with his wife, he has made up backgrounds for all the other five. As the driver tells each person what he imagines about him or her, we get a fleshed-out interior monologue about how each one came to doing war work. The first and best story has Margo as a French nightclub singer and resistance fighter whose small cell is betrayed; her handsome lover (Bruce Edwards) and the rest are executed, but she gets away and makes it to America. The others: Robert Ryan is a race car driver who can't join the Air Corps with his buddies because of injuries he sustained in a crash; John Carradine is a hobo who is moved by a patriotic speech (by judge Harry Davenport) to find gainful employment; Amelita Ward is a former beauty queen whose show biz dreams amount to nothing; James Bell is a prison wardern who has to execute his own brother. Most of the individual stories are interesting but suffer from underdevelopment (especially Bell's with its noirish look and its unexplored psychological content). One of the best scenes is a direct steal from CASABLANCA: Margo manages to break into a radio speech by Hitler to lead her fellow citizens in a sing-along of the Marsellaise.

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