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Song of Russia

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Song of Russia

Song of Russia
Theatrical Film Poster
Directed by Gregory Ratoff
László Benedek (uncredited)
Produced by Joe Pasternak
Pandro S. Berman
Written by Leo Mittler (story)
Victor Trivas (story)
Guy Endore (story)
Paul Jarrico (screenplay)
Richard Collins (screenplay)
Starring Robert Taylor
Susan Peters
Robert Benchley
Cinematography Harry Stradling Sr.
Edited by George Hively
George Boemler
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • February 10, 1944 (1944-02-10)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,828,000[1][2]
Box office $3,729,000[1]

Song of Russia is a 1944 American war film made and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The picture was credited as being directed by Gregory Ratoff, though Ratoff collapsed near the end of the five-month production, and was replaced by László Benedek, who completed principal photography; the credited screenwriters were Paul Jarrico and Richard J. Collins. The film starred Robert Taylor, Susan Peters and Robert Benchley.[3]

Plot

American conductor John Meredith (Robert Taylor) and his manager, Hank Higgins (Robert Benchley), go to Russia shortly before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Meredith falls in love with beautiful Soviet pianist Nadya Stepanova (Susan Peters) while they travel throughout the country on a 40-city tour. Their bliss is destroyed by the German invasion.[4]

Cast

Perception as pro-Soviet propaganda

The positive portrayal of the Soviet Union in the film is clearly linked to the wartime alliance of the Soviet Union and the U.S.[4]

After the end of the Second World War and the outbreak of the Cold War, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) cited Song of Russia as one of the three noted examples of "pro-Soviet propaganda films" made by Hollywood, the others being Warner Brothers' Mission to Moscow and RKO's The North Star. This assertion was supported by the Russian-born pro-capitalist and anti-Communist writer Ayn Rand, who was specifically asked by a HUAC investigator to see the film and provide an expert opinion on it.[5] Ayn Rand, in her 1947 testimony before the HUAC, cited Song of Russia as an example of Communist propaganda in the Hollywood motion picture-industry, depicting an idealized Soviet Union with freedom and comfort that never existed in the real Soviet Union.[6]

Robert Taylor himself protested, after the fact, that he had had to make the film under duress, as he was under contract to MGM. This is the rationale he used to explain why he was a friendly witness during the HUAC hearings in the 1950s.

Reception

Despite the criticism it received in later years, historians claiming it is nowadays more remembered for its contents rather than its quality, Song of Russia was initially received positively. The New York Times called some scenes "a fine bit of cinematic art".[7] Furthermore, the reviewer praised the cast, writing:

"Taylor makes a very good impression as a young American caught in Russia by love and war. And Susan Peters is extraordinarily winning as a mentally solemn but emotionally bonny Russian girl. Robert Benchley throws some straws of cryptic humor into the wind as the American's manager, and Michael Chekhov, Vladimir Sokoloff and Michael Dalmatov are superb as genial Russian characters."[7]

Big Spring Daily Herald called Taylor and Peters "the most dynamic new romantic team since Clark Gable was paired with Lana Turner".[8]

Box office

The movie was also popular, earned $1,845,000 in the US and Canada and $1,884,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $782,000.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c .
  2. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 350
  3. ^ Song of Russia at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ a b Testimony before HUAC by Ayn Rand concerning this film, including synopsis
  5. ^ Mayhew 2005b, pp. 91–93
  6. ^ Hearings Regarding The Communist Infiltrations Of The Motion-Picture Industry, October 20–30, 1947, Hearings Before The Committee On Un-American Activities. House Of Representatives. Internet Archives.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "'Song of Russia' Co-Stars Taylor, Peters at Ritz", Big Spring Daily Herald, March 26, 1944, p. 6

External links

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