Saturday, May 26, 2012

Three Comrades

In the opening moments of Frank Borzage's Three Comrades, soldiers Erich Lohkamp (Robert Taylor), Otto Koster (Franchot Tone) and Gottfried Lenz (Robert Young) celebrate the end of the war over drinks and musings. They wonder what their futures hold for them, hoping that their fates have a shining light rather than a fading one.

A few years pass. The war is still felt in the three men, but they go on with their lives. Enter Patricia Hollmann (Magaret Sullavan), a society girl. Erich takes a shine to her and after some time, they get married. But their happy union is a doomed one.

The film is based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque (apparently the same one that provided loose basis for The Deer Hunter as well) and its script was co-written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. For some reason, the script completely ditched the political message of the novel and focused more on the love story. Maybe MGM just wanted a nice romance film.

In a similar vein to the word "Mafia" in The Godfather thirty-four years later, the word "Nazi" or the country where the film is set (Germany) is never uttered at any point in Three Comrades. This was released only a year before Germany invaded Poland, but maybe MGM did this to ensure they weren't sympathizers of Germany. Who knows?

That doesn't make Three Comrades a bad film. Not in the least bit. The actors, Taylor and Sullavan especially, are very good. And I now desire to see more of Borzage's work.

My Rating: ****1/2


  1. It wasn't MGM so much as it was a general moral cowardice afflicting almost all of Hollywood at that time, the studios were too afraid to make films about the contemporary German situation cos it was too big a market for them. Warners were the only ones trying to say anything about the Nazi regime but they were hamstrung by Production Code dictates (they only got to make Confessions of a Nazi Spy in 1939 cos it was based on demonstrable facts); the rest were too busy trying to protect their business interests with a country that would've, you know, exterminated them if they'd actually lived there. Have you seen the Brothers Warner documentary? There's quite a bit about this subject in that film.

  2. It is interesting how the film circumvents directly mentioning anything about the place or movement going on, but, of course, an astute viewer will know exactly what is going on.

    Glad this made you interested in more Borzage. He's one of my favorites and I'm always eager to check out more of his work.


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