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"The Mortal Storm" 1940

Discussion in 'WWII Films & TV' started by USMCPrice, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    "The Mortal Storm" 1940, I'd never seen this movie until today, it's really a thought provoker. If any of the other forum members have seen this film I'd be interested in your opinions. I thought it was an excellent piece of propaganda for a United States that was still isolationist. I know if I'd seen it, contemporaneously, I'd want to go fight Nazis.
    I know many propaganda films of the era are a bit silly and over the top, simplistic and stereotypical. This movie comes across as real. Propaganda need not be false or exaggerated information, though most of it is, it just needs to advance a political idea or cause. I think this film succeeds (advances it's political cause/ideals) because it sticks closely to the truth and is not overly dramatized. Germany must have seen it as effective as well because this film led Germany to ban all MGM films.
    Lots of good actors, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Young, Robert Stack, Ward Bond, Frank Morgan, Dan Daily, Margaret Sullivan.

    Here's the Wiki synopsis:
    The Mortal Storm - Wikipedia

    It also gets a 100% from Rotten Tomatoes, pretty impressive!

    Three TCM intros that give the background of the movie:





     
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  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    Ah, one of the movies brought up in Senator Gerald P. Nye's "Congressional Committee to Investigate Foreign Influence in American Film-making". (Title from memory.) The Committee was focused on British attempts to demonize the Nazis. "Jewish influence" was considered a fellow-traveler in this.
     
  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I think this movie probably struck pretty closely to the truth, and the truth was ugly. Nye was on to the truth as well, Britain was manipulating US public opinion through the British Security Co-ordination (BSC), a covert organization run by MI6 with the intent to mobilize US public opinion in support of Britain and overcome US isolationist sentiment, with the ultimate goal of insuring US intervention in the war. I don't think they, the British, were behind this particular film, the timing doesn't line up. It was authorized by Louis B. Mayer in September 1939, around the same time the British declaration of war on Germany forced a break in cooperation between the SIS and the FBI. That led the British to send Canadian William Stephenson (codename Intrepid) to meet with the Americans and attempt to rekindle cooperation. J. Edgar Hoover, while sympathetic, was unwilling to blatantly violate US neutrality laws without direct approval from the president. This approval was secured. It is my opinion that Mayer made this movie because he thought the story needed to be told. It was just a plus that it infuriated Hitler, who banned all MGM movies in Germany and the occupied territories.
     
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  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    Nye was an idiot. The Investigation was adjourned when it became apparent that none of the Committee member had seen ANY of the movies on the list. They were going to reconvene in January, 1942. No doubt the British were behind the failure of the committee to meet then.

    And yes, the British were anxious to have our help. FDR was agreeable to that. But you didn't mention movies. The transcript of the testimony doesn't support some grand conspiracy between Hollywood and the Brits. The English didn't have to provoke the film producers to make anti-Nazi films, the newspapers were doing that competently and thoroughly. When Hollywood could get Ward Bond to play a very nasty Nazi pounds were not needed to finance the movie.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    So Nye was an idiot, no argument from me; but there is a reason for the idiom, "even a blind pig can find an acorn/truffle once in a while". He was right in stating the British had a massive intelligence operation in the United States with the primary purpose to manipulate US public opinion, counter Nazi propaganda and eventually secure US involvement in the war. That's not my supposition it's a fact. I don't know if Nye was actually anti-Semitic or if he was just painted as such by the media controlled by the BSC. I think it's interesting that your first link is to an article published on September 11th,1941 by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The JTA was one of William Stephenson's paid outlets for publishing fake news, that he'd have picked up and broadcast by a BSC owned radio station in New Jersey, in order to get it picked up by other newspapers in the heartland.

    From an article about Stephenson on the CIA.gov website:

    "He was a friend of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who sent Stephenson to New York City in 1940 to run the British Security Coordination Office, the operational and liaison arm of UK Intelligence in the US.
    The job made Stephenson Britain’s top intelligence officer in the United States.
    He used his contacts in American industry and government to improve US-British relations and to push the US towards war with the Axis powers.
    According to documents in the UK National Archives, British authorities tasked him to launch covert operations against the American isolationist movement (his effort was no doubt aided by his many contacts in the entertainment industry.)"

    Note the bolded section of the quote. He did use Hollywood to achieve his goals. At the time they couldn't and wouldn't admit it, it could have turned American public opinion against support for Britain. After the fact, after WWII became the "Great Crusade" it was admitted. He also used one of his operatives David Oglivy, working for Gallup, to manipulate public opinion polls. He crafted questions to achieve certain goals, selected who to sample to get the results he wanted, manipulated data that was contrary to what was needed. So when you look at Gallup polling after the BSC became active, be aware they've been manipulated to support Stephenson's objectives.

    Here's an excerpt listing some of the notable people involved in the BSC's efforts: Emeritus- Journal Issue 6

    ....that in the years before and during World War II, an underground network of British spies and propagandists operated out of an office in Rockefeller Center. Its purpose was “to weaken the isolationist forces in the United States and influence U.S. policy in favor of Britain.” These agents belonged to the British Security Coordination (BSC), under the direction of William Stephenson (whose code name was “Intrepid”). While at its peak, the BSC is said to have employed 3,000 agents within the U.S. Its most colorful members were celebrities including Noël Coward, Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, Cary Grant, Leslie Howard, David Niven, David Ogilvy, Ivar Bryce, and Alexander and Zoltan Korda, among others. All were complete amateurs, recruited for their cleverness and connections, rather than experience in spy-craft. This group was informally known as the “Baker Street Irregulars”, after the street urchins who aided the literary Sherlock Holmes by blending in with their environment, keeping their eyes and ears open, and/or performing surreptitious tasks. Also, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a sabotage and subversion organization, parent of the BSC, was actually situated at 64 Baker Street. “They planted propaganda in American newspapers, radio stations, and wire services; co-opted leading columnists from Drew Pearson to Walter Lippmann and Walter Winchell; harassed prominent isolationists and anti-New Dealers; exposed Nazi sympathizers and fifth columnists; and plotted against corporations that were working against British Interests.”

    But, as I said earlier, I think "The Mortal Storm" was an honest effort by Mayer to tell a story he felt important and was not part of the BSC's covert, public sentiment manipulation operations.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't deny that the British wanted us in the war. Sane people in the US knew it was inevitable. But we're talking about a PR operation here.
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    A massive understatement.
     

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