Seems hard to imagine but once upon a time there was a largely anti-communist Hollywood. Comrade X (1940) featuring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr is one unforgetable proof.
Comrade X: – What are they singing?
Vanya – Same thing they always sing in prison: „we are free”
Harsh sarcasm, contemporary irony. Harsh because back then making fun of communists was allowed. Contemporary because the nowadays devotees of the Left are the same: under the flag of liberty they keep fighting liberty embracing its enemies whithout knowing.
Yet there was a time when communism had no traction in Hollywood. It was before Herbert Marcuse, one of the founding fathers of cultural Marxism, landed in New York (in the 30s) to become the darling of Columbia University. Before his intellectual buddies decided the solution to make America greater than ever (for themselves) was to smoothly yet relentlessly change the American mindset through the surreptitious indoctrination of the elites. Which they did starting with universities and the American film industry. Only it took them many decades and several generations to almost succeed. But this was not the case in the 40s.
Back in 1940 Hollywood had different moral codes. Most studio owners and managers were self-made men of ‘proletarian’ origins who made their fortunes working hard and competing even harder to be the best, not preaching bad politics on dirty subsidies. They were people who had learned from experience that without individual freedom in a certain normative order – Christian, democratic and capitalistic – the American dream couldn’t exist.
Back in the 40s the movie makers in Hollywood used to love not hate America and its founding values – which they were trying to honor, preserve and promote regardless of what was going on behind the big screens. The stars and the almighties of the industry knew their place: movies are fiction and entertainment, not pulpits for political sermons. And they understood what the American public was expecting from them: inspirational, romantic, optimistic, patriotic or funny stories, well written and performed by beautiful men and women – preferably talented.
Hard as it is to imagine, the Hollywood of those times wasn’t promoting depression, self-loathing and psychopathy, wasn’t glorifying ugliness and promiscuity, and wasn’t preaching leftism. And it had clear and healthy limits regarding on-screen indecency and sexuality.
Yes, the rules for success were different at the time and no, the American film industry wasn’t communist because back then its people remembered the opposing tenets that made them great like no other.
Watching again Comrade X, a satire as good as Ninotchka (1939), reminded me all this. And it is almost unbelievable today how that hour and 15 minutes of movie captured the perennial essence of Marxism: the lie, the crime, the duplicity, the cynicism of the leaders and the naivety of their useful idiots. All with irresistible humor.
Yes, I laughed regardless of the fact that I myself I was born in a Communist dictatorship and have experienced its horrors. I even laughed in the end, when the main characters (chased by the Soviet army while crossing the Romanian border in a Russian tank) made fun of my countrymen running away from them like crazy; the final line of the movie belongs to Clark Gable (Comrade X):
„It’s gonna be tough to surrender to these people. You gotta catch them first.”
One may not like the way Romania was depicted, especially not if, like myself, had two anti-communist grandfathers who fought and risked their lives in World War II and after, to free their country from both Nazi and communist invaders. But in the historical context the perception was almost fair: after all, in 1940 our rulers decided to give away one third of our country and ordered the Romanian army to surrender without a fight.
Yes, in the summer of 1940, at the request of Hitler and Stalin – still allies at the time, with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in force – our rulers handed over in June Bessarabia and North Bucovina to USSR [50762 sq.km and 3,9 million Romanian citizens]. In August they gave away North Transylvania to Hungary [43 492 sq.km 2,667 mill. citizens] and in September the South of Dobrogea to Bulgaria. For the millions of Romanians thus betrayed, abandoned and left with no country there was nothing else to do but run. Which many did and this was the idea in the final scene of Comrade X.
So, you see, regardless of the tragic historical reality, I did laugh watching Comrade X – it was honest and irresistibly funny – while enjoying, as a Romanian, that the year is 2020 not 1940. To us, all current problems considered, these are better times. On the other hand, thinking about nowadays Hollywood and its dominant mindset I’d rather enjoy them the way they were back in the 40s.
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