Comrade X

Comrade X is a 1940 American comedy spy film directed by King Vidor and starring Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, and Oskar Homolka.

Comrade X
1940 US Theatrical Poster
Directed byKing Vidor
Produced byGottfried Reinhardt
King Vidor
Written byWalter Reisch (story)
Ben Hecht
Charles Lederer
Herman J. Mankiewicz (uncredited)
StarringClark Gable
Hedy Lamarr
Oskar Homolka
Felix Bressart
Eve Arden
Music byBronislau Kaper
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byHarold F. Kress
Production
company
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • December 13, 1940 (1940-12-13) (U.S.)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$920,000[1]
Box office$2,079,000[1]

Plot

In the Soviet Union, American reporter McKinley "Mac" Thompson (Clark Gable) secretly writes unflattering stories about the Soviet Union, attributed to "Comrade X", for his newspaper. His identity is discovered by his valet, Vanya (Felix Bressart), who blackmails Mac into promising to get his daughter, a streetcar conductor named Theodore (Hedy Lamarr), out of the country. Theodore agrees to a sham marriage so she can spread the message of the benefits of Communism to the rest of the world. However, Commissar Vasiliev (Oscar Homolka) is determined to unmask and arrest Comrade X. Eventually Theodore sees the "wicked hypocrisy of Communism" and falls in love with Thompson. [2][3]

Cast

Production

Gable prophetically jokes that "Germany just invaded Russia" and "Panzer tanks are rolling into Ukraine" to get the Russian hotel manager to kick the German reporter out of his room. Less than a year after release, Germany did indeed invade Russia and the Ukrainian SSR.

Pre-war American films such as Comrade X and Ninotchka also depict the Soviet Union as backwards, dreary, depressing and totalitarian. After the United States entered the war on Russia's side, however, Hollywood's depictions of Russians immediately changed to brave, honorable, freedom-loving liberators. The UK specifically pulled Comrade X from the cinemas.[4]

At one point in the movie, after McKinley feeds vodka to his secretary Olga and embraces her, Golubka enters his room and the women engage in a "hair pulling battle" over his affections that is "hilariously staged".[5][6]

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $1,520,000 in the US and Canada and $559,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $484,000.[1]

References

  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Robert Fyne. The Hollywood Propaganda of World War II. p. 103.
  3. Michael J. Strada; Harold Martin Troper; Harold R. Troper. Friend Or Foe?:Russians in American Film and Foreign Policy 1933-1991. p. 31.
  4. Michael Fullilove. Rendezvous with Destiny.
  5. Shearer, Stephen M. (2013). Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9781250041838. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  6. "Comrade X". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
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