Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When Stalin Was "Uncle Joe"

According to Russia Today, the American World War II-era movie "Mission to Moscow" is finally being released on DVD. What makes "Mission to Moscow" different from the legions of other pieces of wartime propaganda churned out by Hollywood during WWII is that it was made in 1943 basically as a PR piece for Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

It's worth remembering that for a brief time in America in the 1940s, Stalin wasn't painted as the notorious Soviet dictator, but instead as "Uncle Joe" - our reliable Russian ally in the fight against Adolph Hitler. "Mission to Moscow", based loosely on the memoirs of United States' ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph E. Davies, was meant to help cement that view of Stalin in the minds of the average American, though even in 1943 one movie critic slammed "Mission" as a "love letter" to the Soviet leader. "Mission to Moscow" went as far as to frame Stalin's purges of his political enemies as an attempt to foil German plots to bring down his government.

"Mission to Moscow" had a different legacy after the war. Senator Joe McCarthy would use the movie's pro-Stalin message as "proof" that Hollywood had been infiltrated by Soviet agents during his anti-Communist crusade in the post-war era.
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