Hitler’s Children (1943): Dmytryk’s Agit-Prop Feature

RKO

Released in the midst of WWII, Edward Dmytryk’s “Hitler’s Children,” an agit-prop picture about the ruthless indoctrination of young Germans according to National Socialist ideals, was extremely successful at the box-office.

However, the blend of political melodrama and a sentimental love story, between Tim Holt and Bonita Granville, is not particularly effective.  Holt plays a Nazi-driven youth and Granville a girl marked for sterilization because she’s deemed unfit to bear illegitimate children for the Fuhrer.  Predictably, she succeeds in converting Holt to her way of thinking so they can die defiantly together.

At the time, critics complained about the soft, unrealistic depiction of a relevant issue: the socialization and potential subversion and brainwashing of innocent and idealistic youth.

As noted, the movie was a commercial hit, due to the timing of its release and also the semi-sensationalistic and lurid revelations about how the villainous Nazi brutalized young women.

A member of the Communist Party, Dmytryk was one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted artists sentenced to one year in prison by the HUAAC.   After a second appearance before the Committee and friendly testimony, he was removed from the list.

Due to its timeliness, “Hitler’s Children” was one of the top-grossing films of 1943.

 Cast:

Kent Smith

Bonita Granville

Tim Holt

Otto Kruger

H.B. Warner

Lloyd Corrigan

Hans Conreid

Erford Gage

Nancy Gates

Gavin Muir

Credits:

Produced by Edward A. Golden.

Directed by Edward Dmytryk.

Screenplay by Emmet Lavery, based on the book Education for Death by Gregor Ziemer.

Release date: February 24, 1943

Running time: 83 Minutes

Black-and-white