(director/writer: Leo Hurwitz; screenwriter: narration by Saul Levitt; cinematographer: George Jacobson/Peter Glushanok; editor: Leo Hurwitz; music: David Diamond; cast: Alfred Drake (Narrator), Muriel Smith (Narrator), Gary Merrill (Narrator), Saul Levitt (Narrator), Virgil Richardson (self); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Barnett L. Rosset; Milestone; 1948)-B/W
“The topic covered about the racial divide in America is still relevant some 70 years after the 1948 film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The landmark lyrical essay-like film by Leo Hurwitz (“Dialogue with a Woman Departed”/”Native Land”) ambitiously examines systemic racism during the Holocaust in Germany and the systemic racism in the American military during the war and in its daily life in America after the war. It calls out for equality and justice. But the excellent progressive film flopped at the box office and was labeled a commie propaganda film. As a result Hurwitz was blacklisted for a decade from movies and television. The topic covered about the racial divide in America is still relevant some 70 years after the 1948 film.
The experimental documentary shows battle footage during WWII and the aftermath footage of life for refugees, the Nuremberg Trials and the ongoing racism in America.
Virgil Richardson is a former Tuskegee Airman, a black vet who chose to emigrate to Mexico to escape the racism in his country (he couldn’t get a decent job despite his service).
By following Hitler’s rise to power, Hurwitz finds ‘the ideas of the loser still active in the land of the winner.’ It’s heartbreaking to compare Nazi Germany to a democratic America, but there it is and it’s hard to deny.
Producer Barney Rosset was founder after this film of the freedom-loving Grove press. He said the film showed “It was about how we won the war, and crushed Hitler, but he escaped. Escaped and came here.”
Kudos to Milestone Films for restoring and releasing again Strange Victory. If the wartime racists in both Germany and America don’t remind you of Trump and his decrepit supporters, you’re not paying attention.
REVIEWED ON 10/4/2020 GRADE: A