Sunday, June 10, 2012

139. The Mortal Storm (1940)

Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Frank Borzage
Written By: George Froeschel, Hans Rameau, Claudine West, from novel by Phyllis Bottome
Main Cast: James Stewart, Margaret Sullivan, Robert Young, Frank Morgan, Robert Stack
Click here to view the trailer


As I close the gap to my short term goal to twenty-five films remaining, I take in a film I recorded off of Turner Classic Movies last year, "The Mortal Storm". I was excited to take in another James Stewart film for THE BOOK, but unfortunately, this one wasn't anything special. 

The film is set in Germany and picks up around the time of Adolf Hitler's rise to power and the birth of the Nazi regime. Professor Viktor Roth (Morgan) is a prestigious member of the teaching staff at a local university. He's a humble man, who doesn't take his family or his students for granted. The announcement of Adolf Hitler's rise is announced during his 60th birthday party, where he's hosting several guests. Among the members of the party are Prof. Roth's two sons, his daughter Freya (Sullivan), Fritz Marberg (Young) and Martin Breitner (Stewart), two family friends. Fritz and Martin share two totally different point of view when it comes to politics and the integrity of Naziism. Fritz is ecstatic when he hears the news of Hitler's rise to prominence and Martin is a pacifist, who believes peace should always supersede war. Meanwhile, Freya and Frtiz's engagement struggles when their political views also clash, Freya also a pacifist who is turned off by Naziism. Martin and other Nazi "unsympathizers" are subject to bullying over the course of the rise of the Nazi regime and eventually Freya and Martin find solace in one another's arms.

Honestly, there wasn't anything here to write home about. It had, approximately, equal parts of good and bad, but in my opinion this wasn't a film that needed to be included in a tome of MUST SEE films. I have a feeling that it was only included because it was one of very few anti-Nazi films produced by Hollywood in that era. I can always watch Jimmy Stewart hone his craft on the silver screen, so as far as cast choices go, I had no complaints. The early parts of the film actually gave me high hopes for the film as a whole, with Stewart being bullied and protecting the weak from bullying attempts by members of the Nazi patrol. It was classic Stewart, standing up for the little guy and being small in stature, but always willing to fight for what he believes in. Then we get into the latter part of the film and everything just starts to drag. The love story between Martin and Freya is concentrated on more than the story of Martin standing up for his beliefs and it gets fairly dull. There's a particular scene, near the end of the film where Martin and Freya are on skis and being chased by a Nazi patrol, who are also on skis. I don't think I'd ever seen a foot chase on the slope of a snowy mountain, while the principles wore skis before. It was actually quite exciting and when you can watch a film from the 1940s and say you're seeing something for the first time, it's a credit to the movie. In fact, that should've been the end of the film, but it drags on past that and wears out it's welcome. The film was also beautifully shot and provided dozens of dazzling images, but just didn't deliver fully in the script department to get a pass from me.

RATING: 6/10  Keeping it short and sweet tonight, but I hit all my bullet points, so we're all good. Now I can approach my final descent and the last 25 films of this 100.


June 10, 2012  10:14pm

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