Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Men Must Fight (1933) (revised)

MEN MUST FIGHT is a very eerie film from 1933.

Whats eerie is that it was made in 1932, released February 17 1933, and it predicts not only World War 2 which it places eeriely in 1940, but also Neville Chamberlain's return from Germany with a promise of peace for all time. It also predicts with an uncanniness the battle of those who seek peace with those who seek war and the questions of who is truly patriotic. Basically it predicts the arguements of the last three monfew years.

The story concerns a woman who, in pre-code days, sleeps with a flyer durng WW1 three days after meeting him. The flier is killed and she with child marries a friend. Together they raise the child as their own.

In 1940 the country is marching towards war with "Eurasia" (Orwell and reality had nothing on this film). The "father" is now highly placed in the govermewent and working toawrds peace. An assassination of one of another US official sets things in motion towards war. The mother is extremely pro peace and the father follows the goverment. The son leans towards peace.

As the march to war comes the question of what is right and what is wrong in advocating peace and following ones heart is examined. It also raises the questions of whether or not there are ways to end war forever.

Another eerie bit is the discussion of the gas bombs, ten of which each no bigger than an orange would wipe out everyone in New York. The grandmother quips "Well if they do use them I hope they don't smell bad."

As the war quickly escaltes New York is bombed, the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building (two weeks before King Kong premired at Radio City) are destroyed. The choices that everyone has made as to what they beieve is thrown into chaos as the closeness of war throws light on the other other side's view.

This is an incredibly complex movie that could not have been made a year or two later as the Hays Code crept in and as the march to war in Europe and the rest of the world became a real one. This is a good melodrama that raises questions that are still important.

Whats so amazing is that this is a good film even with out the eerire overtones. Yes its occasionally static, and the special effects are creeky, with one shot of planes rolling by a reviewing stand done as a process shot with the proportions incredibly wrong, and it bogs down in to talkiness of melodrama for a a few minutes half way in, but this is a really great film to watch when you want to see one something from the good old days.

I would say its the sort of film they don't make any more except that with rare exceptions they never made them like this at all. (Which is true about 99% of the films they say they don't make any more, they never made them like that even then.)

If you can see the film. The only place I've seen it, and the source of my copy, is Video Search of Miami. Perhaps if you're not willing to plunk down money for it, Turner Classic Movies runs it now and again.

See it, it will make you think.

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