The New Pictures, May 11, 1942

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Bette bounds off with Olivia's husband (Dennis Morgan), leaving a fiancé (George Brent) in her wake, bounds right back after her catch has killed himself. When it becomes apparent that nothing much is ever going to come of all this sound and fury over a tyrannical child, Our Life curls up its toes and subsides. Miss Davis, fleeing from a manslaughter rap for running over a child, wrecks her car and dies.

Nasty bit of business: devious Bette, home from driving her purloined husband to suicide, and burning to get out of town, tries to wheedle the cash to do it with from her robber-baron uncle, wins a chuckle from him with the brazen admission: "Guess I'm kill or cure." When he refuses to give her the money, she tries to make the old man drink himself to death.

Guerrilla Brigade (Artkino) is a significant footnote to history. It went before the cameras in July 1939—one month before the Nazi-Soviet mutual non-aggression pact was signed. Several months later it was released. Since all Soviet films must have Government approval to be shown, the picture is proof that the Russians, despite the pact, knew that the Germans were their enemies and were preparing to fight them.

Guerrilla's story is an action tale of how one guerrilla movement grew big enough to drive the Kaiser's spike-helmeted legions out of the heart of the Ukraine in World War I. Its photography is undistinguished, its climaxes sometimes reminiscent of a Hollywood Western, but it has drive and spirit, occasional good humor, and a fine feeling of what the Russian people fight for, and how.

When Director Igor Savchenko set out to make his picture, he took his company to a small central Ukrainian hamlet named Svirki. Some of the townsfolk had been guerrillas in World War I; none had forgotten the Germans. None would play German soldiers; those extras had to be imported from Kiev.

Many an old peasant improved Savchenko's script by offering him a real sequence from the last war. One, after watching for some time, politely informed the director that the sequence was not quite correct. He said tomatoes now grew where his barn had been, that the Germans had taken his cow and knocked out his wife with a rifle butt. In other particulars, however, the scene was faithful. Then he added: "We killed the German near the tree over there." There is no more make-believe in Svirki. The Germans took it again last year. Now everyone has a guerrilla role.

Before Hitler's smash at Russia, fewer than twelve U.S. cinemansions were showing Soviet films. As Russian resistance to Hitler's onslaught rose, so did Americans' curiosity. At present nearly 200 theaters are playing Soviet pictures, 2,000 carry their short subjects. Variety, the bible of U.S. show business, recently made this turnabout official, crowed in its Blitzkrieg jargon: Vodka Films' OK Biz.

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