Review: ‘Comrade X’

As title implies, action is laid in Russia, with Clark Gable, a love-'em-and-leave-'em, elbow-bending American reporter cutting a wide swath as a carefree Lothario and outwitter of the censors in coding stories through to the outside. Gable hits a hurdle in maintaining his secret when simple-minded Felix Bressart, hotel porter, threatens exposure of the reporter's true identity unless Gable gets Bressart's daughter out of the country immediately.

As title implies, action is laid in Russia, with Clark Gable, a love-’em-and-leave-’em, elbow-bending American reporter cutting a wide swath as a carefree Lothario and outwitter of the censors in coding stories through to the outside. Gable hits a hurdle in maintaining his secret when simple-minded Felix Bressart, hotel porter, threatens exposure of the reporter’s true identity unless Gable gets Bressart’s daughter out of the country immediately.

Seems the girl, although a rabid Communist, is slated to be liquidated by the Kremlin. Matter-of-fact agreement of the girl to the plan, with ritual of typical Russian marriage ceremony and her quick breakdown under Gable’s embraces, sets the stage for a continual series of laugh situations before the pair finally get out of the country.

Picture [from a screen story by Walter Reisch] resembles Garbo’s Ninotchka only in that it again directs well-aimed shafts of humor at Communist actions and preachments, for plenty of rousing humor.

Gable provides a strong characterization of the ever-resourceful American newspaperman. Hedy Lamarr is handed her strongest role and demonstrates she can be more than decorative by a good display of both deadpan comedy and romantic antics. Natasha Lytess shines as a Russian secretary. Hair-pulling battle between latter and Lamarr over Gable’s affections is a honey.

1940: Nomination: Best Original Story

Comrade X

Production

M-G-M. Director King Vidor; Producer Gottfried Reinhardt; Screenplay Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer; Camera Joseph Ruttenberg; Editor Harold F. Kress; Music Bronislau Kaper;; Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Malcolm Brown

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Clark Gable Hedy Lamarr Oscar Homolka Felix Bressart Eve Arden Natasha Lytess
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