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October 13, 2006
The movie the left does not want you to see
If you have cable TV and something to record it on, don't miss capturing for your library a virtually unknown classic film — an anti—communist classic film, I Married a Communist. Today (Friday) at 6:15 PM Eastern, 3:15 PM Eastern, Turner Classic Movies is showing it under its later and less—controversial title, The Woman on Pier 13.
Luckily Ted Turner has no control over the eponymous movie network. If he did, we would never see this gem. No DVD is in release for the movie. The only way you can see it is on TCM. So don't miss your chance. I love this movie. You are going to want to share this with your friends. Here's what you'll get.
Robert Ryan, little remembered now, was a great leading man of the day. He plays Brad Collins, a man running from his past, when he was a communist. He was lured into the party by his then—mistress. Breaking with her and the party, he moved out to San Francsico and took his new name. He worked his way up in a shipping company, marries Larraine Day, and loves the American Way.
Into the picture comes the party and his old mistress, though. The party has business on the San Francisco docks, and needs him to betray his company, his wife and his country.
For once in your life, you will see a dramatic portrayal of the evils of American communists. They are horrible people, and the movie portrays them in this light. Personal feelings matter naught; the party is god, and those who exercise its power are ruthless.
It is actually an excellent film. The acting is very good, and so is the direction. It is not a cartoon, it is a good dramatic movie.
The reaction to Joe McCarthy turned Hollywood against ever making another movie of this sort. This one snuck in before that happened, released in 1949.
It is an RKO product. RKO is by far my favorite of the old Hollywood studios, operating on a budget but nurturing extraordinary talent with a fair degree of freedom, and producing the defining work of the genre film noir.
Based on his career, the director Robert Stevenson may have himself been blacklisted by Hollywood. That because they hated blacklisting so much. After 1952, he turned to television work, vastly lower on the prestige scale in Hollywood. When he was eventually able to make it back to films, they were for Disney, and some of them were extremely good, like Old Yeller and Mary Poppins.
The year before he made I Married a Communist, Stevenson directed another compelling movie which is strangely unavailable on DVD, To the Ends of the Earth. It is an exciting combination of film noir and spy movie, with Dick Powell chasing down the heroin trade to exotic locales. The head of the Bureau of Narcotics, the DEA's predecessor, the legendary Harry Anslinger makes three cameo appearances in the movie.
Robert Stephenson is no longer among us. But perhaps one of the conservative film festivals could someday feature one or two of his clasic films as a posthumous tribute.
Don't miss today's showing.
Thomas Lifson 10 13 06