By the way...
Hitler's Children (1943)
To be honest, I was looking for My Bill, because I was thinking fondly of Kay Francis today and wanted to feature a movie starring Bonita Granville, our recent "Wednesday's Child," and that would have been a two-fer. Instead, I found that Hitler's Children was available for viewing in full on YouTube.
Imagine! A crew-cutted Tim Holt as a Nazi student at the Horst Wessel Schule, Berlin c. 1933, and Bonita in pigtails at the American Colony School across the way. You know, before things go south.
It never ceases to amaze me that a person could walk into an American movie house any day between 1939 and 1945 and see a pretty thorough excoriation of the German government and general enemy evilness (without managing to convey the depth of that evil) even before we declared war. Do we do this now? I mean apart from action pictures, which I tend not to see? I like propaganda as much as the next person (which I hope is not much), and Hitler's Children, one of RKO's top money-makers, really delivers.
This particular film is one of those "out of the mouths of babes" types where, in one scene, the American kids are enjoying an outdoor social studies class and each one happens to express an opinion about the European war that reflected public opinions of the day: appeasement, isolationism, America should get involved and help the world. The teacher looks on happily while the students demonstrate for us the superiority of democracy. The boys next door, of course, are getting lectured about Germany needing to take its rightful place on top of the food chain and avenge the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles. Those kids are sad and quiet. And indoors.
That's the setting. Here's the set up: Anna Müller/Miller (Granville) is an American born in Germany and Karl Bruner (Holt) is a German, born in America. They become friends. Until five years later, that is, when Karl goes Gestapo and removes Anna (now a teacher) from the school, informing her that she is now German. They also take away the Jewish, Polish, and Lithuanian kids...ssssomeplace.
These crazy kids fall in love, even though Anna is sent to a sort of Labor Camp to have babies and Karl keeps telling her to play nice.
It doesn't end well.
If you have 80 minutes to spare and are feeling a little Red-Dawn (1984)-y, give Hitler's Children a try. It is kind of a conversation starter.
Fun Fact: This low-budget, financially successful propaganda piece was directed by Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten, who served time in prison for contempt of Congress, but who later denounced former friends and colleagues as Communists to HUAC.