Leo Hearts All-Things Russian
|Robert Taylor and Susan Peters Like What They Learn Of Soviet Russia|
Metro Plays Wartime Tune with Song Of Russia (1944) --- Part One
Notorious among few who remember it at all, Song Of Russia began as innocuous pat on allied
|The Capitalist Oppressor Life For Me!, Says|
Cookout and Pool Host Joe Pasternak
Joe Pasternak referred to himself as a "make-believest." For this producer, reality was a thing to be shunned, another of the school that felt messages should be sent
Never Make An Audience Think! might have been spoke by anyone on Metro payroll, though it was Pasternak credited with the phrase, which he lived up to by scrubbing product clean of any but feel-good element. For his Song, German troops threaten
To direct came Gregory Ratoff, a mad Russian himself, and, as Orson Welles once pointed out, court jester to Zanuck. Ratoff had done mangled English as comic support since beginning of screen talk, had shown he could guide action with dispatch and economy. Greg had his swimming pool, so bother the peasants back in old country getting more remote by the day. Most of émigrés wanted disagreeable pasts behind them. To rock boats and screw with politics was risk against citizenship they all eventually wanted. Consider what Garden Of
As earlier put, politics don't run deep in Song Of Russia. Invader Germans come off more like Bogeymen crashing Victor Herbert's Toyland than threat real Nazis were. Joe Stalin is actor-portrayed (Michael Visaroff) and speaks on radio of democratic principles he will uphold, while further narration references "freedom" all Soviets crave. Newcomer John Hodiak is a character named "Boris Bulganov," which might interest Bullwinkle fans yet unborn in 1944 (did Jay Ward take note?). In a scene most noted by modern viewers, school-teaching Susan Peters instructs moppets on how best to make Molotov cocktails, while Daryl Hickman delights to find he'll qualify for combat service for having just turned twelve. It's all nutty beyond words, or offense. By the late forties and greater sensitivity toward things pro-Russia, MGM had but to take and keep Song Of Russia out of circulation, a thing they'd do anyway for its being way out of date and had served purpose. 1956 and TV release of "Pre-48 Greats" saw no cause to withhold Song Of Russia, a potato cooled considerable since gavels sounded in Washington.
Part Two of Song Of Russia goes up Thursday.