Mission to Moscow

123 mins., black and white, mono sound, released in 1943 by Warner Bros. after it was shown to FDR in the White House April 21 and to a favorable public audience at a sneak preview in Hollywood April 22, 1943.

Stalin grabs Balkans with left hand and Latvia with right hand, cartoon from Current History 1939/11
Joseph Davies was a corporate lawyer, loyal to the Democratic Party, friend of Woodrow Wilson (who appointed Davies commissioner of corporations) and of young FDR when he was assistant Secretary of Navy, married breakfast food heiress Marjorie Post Hutton, served as ambasssador to Russia 1936-38. The success of Davies' book that was published after BARBAROSSA caused Davies to ask Warner Bros. to make the film to create public support for Russia in the U.S.; the rights were sold to the studio July 3, 1942 for $25,000.

Davies kept tight control over the script, emphasized the need for collective security rather than nationalism, wrote that the Soviet invasion of Finland and Poland after the 1939 Nonaggression pact was only "self-defense", blamed the purge trials on traiters and Trotskyite 5th columnists, ignored the ideological differences between Stalin and Trotsky, romanticized Russian leaders and the happy Russian people learning as modern consumers in contrast to the regimented Germans, portrayed himself in the film as a Horatio Alger self-made man who held traditional American values, was critical of isolationism and appeasement, ignored the fact that the U.S. never joined the League of Nations or that FDR had accepted the limits imposed by the Neutrality Acts, implied wrongly that FDR's Quarantine speech of Oct. 5, 1937, was inspired by Davies' cable to Hull, never showed the opulent family yacht Sea Cloud that Davies and his family used to get to Russia with a huge stash of food for themselves. Davies was not as accurate about Russia as Capra's Battle of Russia released in October 1943 that emphasized Germany's historic hatred of Russia and the significance of Russian victories at Leningrad and Stalingrad that challenged the Nazi myth of invincibility.

Joseph Stalin
from Newsweek 1941
Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov
signs the German-Soviet nonaggression pact;
Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand
behind him. Moscow, August 23, 1939
photo from Patch-NA
Poland invaded by Hitler and Stalin,
cartoon from Life 1939/09/01




revised 11/15/02 by Schoenherr | World War II Timeline | Filmnotes