TOMORROW, THE WORLD! jumped the gun on the later The Bad Seed and The Omen by introducing one of the most hateful child villains you’d never want to run across (except with a tank) in the form of ‘Emil Bruckner’, Hitler Youth personified, played by 13-year-old Skip Homeier. Billed as ‘Skippy’ in his movie debut, the boy with the unsettling look had already honed the character in 500 performances on Broadway before joining Fredric March and Betty Field in this 1944 rattler, one of a slew of movies that convulsive year that sought to peer into the mindset of the diehard Nazi enemy. *
‘Mike Frame’ (March) takes his orphaned nephew to live in his ‘typical’ American home. The boy’s father was an anti-Nazi university professor who died in a concentration camp, but the kid is anything but liberal, parroting back the 3rd Reich brainwashing like gospel. Mike’s fiancée ‘Leona’ (Field) has the chore of being Emil’s schoolteacher but she also happens to be Jewish, which the venomous punk cannot abide. He’s angered by most of what he sees of the American pie, and follows his ‘duty’ to sow trouble on the literal Home Front.
March of course is solid as ever, Field is good, and Agnes Moorehead contributes her sly style as Mike’s sister, jealous of the relationship with Leona. In directing, Leslie Fenton doesn’t get much flair from the $800,000 production and Louis Applebaum’s absurdly busy music score is a decided debit. The script by Ring Lardner Jr. and Leopold Atlas adapted the play by James Gow and Arnaud d’Usseau. All revolves around the demonic Emil, and Homeier delivers the spite with requisite relish. It’s quite a bit over-the-top nowadays, and the forbearance of the host family with this viper in their midst strains credulity, but if you can put yourself back in the mindset of the time, it’s still a fairly effective period piece.
Grosses came to $3,400,000, 95th for the year. 95 minutes, with Joan Carroll and Edit Angold.
* Also making the cinema case against Adolf’s acolytes in ’44: Lifeboat, Ministry Of Fear, The Master Race, The Hitler Gang, None Shall Escape.