Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fox docudramas

January 13 marks the birthday of Igor Gouzenko. Gouzenko worked as a cipher clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada, but in 1945, learning that he and his wife were to be sent back to the USSR and having seen what life in the free West was really like, he decided to defect. He stole several dozen documents from the Soviet embassy to give to the Canadian authorities when he defected, documents that revealed Soviet attempts to steal US atom bomb secrets, as well as the recruitment of Soviet agents within Canada.

Why am I mentioning this in a classic film blog? Gouzenko's story was turned into the 1948 movie The Iron Curtain, released by 20th Century-Fox. Gouzenko was played by Dana Andrews, with Gene Tierney playing his wife, Svetlana. It's told in a docudrama style, and isn't that bad. Unfortunately, it's not currently available on DVD.

However, the docudrama style of The Iron Curtain is something that Fox used quite a bit during the late 1940s. TCM has in the past few months obtained the rights to show another Dana Andrews docudrama, Boomerang!, which is also not available on DVD. (For the record, it's going to show up again during 31 Days of Oscar.) Two which have been released to DVD and are worth watching, are:

13 Rue Madeleine, a look at US intelligence during World War II starring James Cagney as the head of a military intelligence group, who has to go into occupied France himself; and

Call Northside 777, in which James Stewart plays a crusading journalist who has reason to believe that a man convicted of murder ten years earlier is in fact innocent.

I've already recommended a number of docudramas from other studios, such as the wonderful He Walked By Night, as well as a later one from Fox, The Man Who Never Was.

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