Comrade X (1940)

Comrade Xcomrade x poster
Directed by King Vidor
Written by Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, and Walter Reisch

First viewing/Warner Archive DVD


Vanya: Well, there’s some good news and some bad news. Last week all the towels were stolen. But on the other hand the water wasn’t running so nobody needed the towels. Everything balances.

This is a pretty good screwball rip-off of Ninotchka though it bogs down a bit toward the end.

McKinley B. Thomson (Clark Gable) is Comrade X, an American reporter who has been smuggling coded stories past the censors in Moscow.  His valet Vanya (Felix Bessart) is determined to get his daughter Theodore (Hedy Lamarr) out to America because he fears that she is too opinionated for the powers that be.  He blackmails Thomson into doing this by threatening to reveal his identity.  The idealistic Theodore is a committed communist but consents to accompany Thomson as his wife because he convinces her he is also a true believer and they are going to enlighten the masses.  But the authorities are on Thomson’s trail and father, daughter, and Thomson end up in a jail cell.  How will they escape?  With Oscar Homolka as a Commissar and Eve Arden as a wise-cracking reporter.


comrade x 1


This starts out well with good chemistry between Gable and Lamarr and some snappy dialogue satirizing the USSR.  The whole farce ends in a massive tank chase, which goes on way too long for my taste and weakens the film.  Lamarr looks even more beautiful here than she did in Algiers.

Comrade X was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story.


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