Underground (1941)

Underground (1941) is an action packed counter-Nazi propaganda espionage adventure movie in which one brave brother fights a massive propaganda war within wartime Germany while his brother supports and upholds the regime.

Nothing could be more dangerous in this artfully constructed version of Nazi society which is exactly as you would expect it. A place of propaganda. Where people are not free to speak. 

No mention is made of the Nazi's racial mania, although the young mouthpiece who is the dedicated wounded Nazi soldier, whose brother is hard at work in the underground, is racially crazed for the notion of Mother Germany and its capacity for ruling all of Europe and the World.

His brother runs an illegal and dangerous radio van service which certainly seems to be broadcasting a minority message. This message is that Nazis are an untrustworthy evil and not fit for power.

This is however all taking place in the super-state embarked on surveillance and the Nazi police are sent through the night to track down and arrest or maybe even shoot these illegal broadcasters.

There is a cracking ongoing reading of this film as attacks upon the other. Fascism, with its myriad manifestations, nurtures an intrinsic disdain for deviation, striving to eradicate it entirely. Yet, within the vast expanse of "culture," there often lies a paradoxical notion of divergence, clandestinely wielding a deleterious potency.

This potency materializes when the realm of "art" endeavors to emancipate itself from direct engagement with mundane experiences, intellectual pursuits, or emotional yearnings. The term "culture" itself carries cumbersome connotations of exclusivity, haughtiness, and unchecked hubris — a glaring incongruity that renders Goebbels's assertions absurd, considering that fascism, at its ideological core, thrives on hubris and exclusivity.

The vehement reactions emanating from both the extreme right and the conservative left in response to the modernist movement highlight its inclination to subvert conventional and secure artistic standards and anticipations. Paradoxically, this very subversion reinforces the inherent associations of exclusivity and haughtiness endemic to the domain of "culture."

When creators — be they writers, painters, musicians, or filmmakers — choose to delve into the formal intricacies of their craft, demanding that the audience acquaint themselves with its lexicon and then struggle to discern significance within its complexities, they risk estrangement. Unfortunately, the majority recoils from expending effort in pursuit of aesthetic gratification.

When the demands imposed by artistic endeavors become excessively burdensome, the work inevitably falls into neglect. This predicament is particularly evident in the realm of contemporary "serious" music, which, having alienated its audience, now attracts interest primarily from its own practitioners and theorists. Such is the peril that ensnares any creation daring to exhibit emotional aloofness.

The inaugural modernist movement met its denouement by the twilight of the thirties — politically suppressed and consigned to oblivion by the indifference of the masses. The tumultuous milieu of the Second World War afforded scant opportunity for aesthetic contemplation, relegating the movement to a state of dormancy until the mid-forties. Such is the cinematic narrative intertwined with this nascent phase of modernism.

Philip Dorn who plays the ideology crazed German supremacists brother with the missing arm, was a Dutch actor who had been working in Germany.

He moved to United States in August 1939, just a fortnight before World War II broke out. He went there at the urging of Henry Koster who had directed him in Holland.

Koster was at Universal and Dorn made three films for that studio: Enemy Agent (1940), Ski Patrol (1940), and Diamond Frontier (1940). Dorn went over to MGM where he had support roles in Escape (1940) and Ziegfeld Girl (1941). Warners borrowed him to play the lead in Underground (1941).

One cannot have a 1940s Nazi propaganda adventure suspense story without Martin Kosleck appearing. Kosleck made such a career out of playing maniac evil Nazis that he went on to play Hitler in 1962.

Incredibly, Kosleck portrayed Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister, five times. 

He is known to have relished satirising his former country-mate sand appeared in these and other anti-Nazi films of the early 1940s: Nurse Edith Cavell, Espionage Agent, Underground, Berlin Correspondent, Bomber's Moon, and Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas. 

However, it was his impression of Goebbels that will remain in the memories of moviegoers, especially in Paramount's pseudo-documentary The Hitler Gang (1944).

Underground (1941) at Wikipedia

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