Hal Wallis has produced a fine film from Lillian Hellman’s Broadway success, presenting a searching indictment of the once weak-willed liberal, and appeasement policy of the US.
The film is an improvement on the Broadway play (Hellman scripted both) because it is more coherent, and better acted. Although the story is carried forward only till Mussolini’s death, and much of it is a flashback to the days of the March on Rome in 1922, pic isn’t dated.
Pic is story of a bewildered diplomat, stationed in Europe to report the significance of changing events to the US State Dept, who fails to see importance of a Fascist takeover in Italy, the rise of Nazism in Germany, the Munich agreement, etc. His wife is mixing socially with the wrong people, the smug, satisfied, set who are pulling the strings for these events, unaware of the cataclysmic results.
Tied up with the political is a personal story, the diplomat’s marriage to the wrong woman and his constant love for the newspaper woman he should have wed.
Robert Young plays the diplomat with an honest sense of bewilderment and inadequacy towards forces he can’t foresee or direct. Sylvia Sidney, as the prescient reporter, is not only unusually attractive but a superior actress. Ann Richards, as the wife, is also good.