Comrade X

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COMRADE X—-” You’re a beautiful woman and nobody’s going to turn a machine gun on you if I can help it.”  Clark Gable plays an American reporter in Moscow who sneaks stories past the Soviet censors about the way things are really run in the “Workers Paradise”.  Going about this crafty biz, he is known as and wanted by the code name ‘Comrade X’.

Discovered by a hotel porter, he’s blackmailed into smuggling the man and his headstrong daughter out of Ma Russia. The lady is beautiful Hedy Lamarr, and she’s Red to the core, telling him “You are the first American I have ever met with a soul. It has a strange effect on me.” Followed by a kiss.

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Enjoyable 1940 farce from the still somewhat dizzy days before the war expanded to pull in the USSR, then the USA.  The composition is equal parts slapstick, satire and innuendo, milked for all they’re worth by the cast. Gable looks devilish, and cracks wise nonstop. Lamarr does very well as the object of his thaw. Oscar Homolka, Felix Bressart and others are just right, making with Slavic shtick.

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Some jokes about the Germans invading Russia are tossed in: six months after the picture was released they did just that.  Directed by King Vidor, written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer. With Eve Arden, Sig Ruman, Natasha Lytess, Vladimir Sokoloff, Mikhail Rasumny and Keye Luke. Oscar nominated for Best Story (Walter Reisch). Making it took $920,000,with a $2,079,000 return volley landing it a #10 spot on the roster of earners in a year rife with good comedies. Dated as can be, all the funnier for it. 104 minutes.

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