Comrade X (1940): Starring Gable and Hedy Lamarr


In King Vidor's political-romantic melodrama, Clark Gable plays the title tole, Comrade X, alias McKinley B. Thompson, a journalist who had been smuggling embarrassing stories about the government out of Russia. Upon being discovered by a porter named Vanya (Felix Bressart) at his hotel,   Vanya blackmails him into smuggling his daughter Theodore (Hedy Lamarr), out of the country. The secret police has been investigating her due to her Communist affiliation.

However, the only way McKinley can persuade Theodore to go to America is by assuring her that he is a committed Communist, and that he needs her help in spreading the ideology the U.S. Theodore talks it over with Siminoff (Sig Rumann), the leader of a counter-revolutionary group, and finally consents to McKinley's request. 
To accomplish that, they must get married, as it is the only way she can get a legit passport. This is more than McKinley had expected, though Theodore is a fine, attractive girl. Complications arise when the secret police apprehend them before they can leave the country.
They are brought before Chief of Police Gregoriev (Vladimir Sokoloff), who also had Vanya arrested. Vanya does his best to shield them but to no avail as Gregoriev knows McKinley is Comrade X. All three, now sentenced to death, are joined in the cell by a large group of Siminoff's followers. Siminoff has taken over Gregoriev's post and, to show his good faith, has sacrificed many of his former comrades.
In return for their freedom, McKinley offers Siminoff the negative of a photo that displays Siminoff in incriminating position. Siminoff agrees, and although he tries to trick them, McKinley, Vanya, and Theodore manage to escape from the country. Embittered by the duplicity of her idol, Theodore resigns herself to a life in a capitalistic country. 
"Comrade X" was well received by the critics, who singled out Clark Gable and especially Hedy Lamarr. Film Daily wrote: "This gal has found herself or, better, MGM has found her, for she simply knocks over her role of Theodore, looks ravishing and is the top ingredient of the show. This Lamarr performance, however, takes nothing away from Clark Gable, who is perfection in his part, with Felix Bressart giving another of his great characterizations."
Oscar Nominations: 1
Original Story: Walter Reisch
Oscar Awards: None
Oscar Context:
The winners of the Original Story Oscar were Benjamin Glazer and John S. Toldy for "Arise, My Love."
Produced by Gottfried Reinhardt.
Directed by King Vidor.
Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer, based on a story by Walter Reisch.
Camera: Joseph Ruttenberg.
Editor: Harold F. Kress.
Release date: December 13, 1940.
Running time: 90 Minutes.
Clark Gable
Hedy Lamarr
Oscar Homolka
Felix Bressart
Even Arden
Sig Rumann
Natasha Lytees
Vladimir Sokoloff
Edgard Barrier
George Renavent
Mikhail Rasummy