Comrade X (1940)

RUSSIA – The never never land of steppes, samovars and spies – beards, bears and Borscht – where almost anything can happen – and usually does…

Censorship runs rampant in the Soviet Union, but one reporter has managed to sneak out critical articles in code. The articles have no genuine byline, attributed only to “Comrade X.”

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(Image via Alchetron)

Of course, it doesn’t take long for these articles to catch the attention of the government. The writer behind them, American reporter Mac Thompson (Clark Gable), faces grave consequences if his identity is found out.

Unfortunately for Mac, his valet Vanya (Felix Bressart) knows his secret… and he wants to use it to his own advantage. He wants his daughter, Theodore (Hedy Lamarr), sent out of the country so he can be sure she’s safe. What better solution than for Mac to take her to America?

There’s just one problem: Theodore loves Russia and is entirely loyal to her country, not quite willing to leave. Mac must find a way to smuggle her out of the country — with or without her own cooperation!

Comrade X was directed by King Vidor. The screenplay was written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer, from a story by Walter Reisch.

This film tackles the Red Scare with a hefty dose of humor, attempting to answer the age-old question of whether “people who believe in hot dogs and boogie woogie” could ever truly be conquered by the Communists. Mac thinks it’s possible, or at least tries to convince Theodore that he does, telling her that “One beautiful girl with the smile of an angel whispering ‘I love Russia’ is worth a whole wagonload of intellectuals!”

Who better than Clark Gable to play this cocky, adventurous American reporter smuggling information out of Russia under a pseudonym?  The actor is perfect for his role, and his charm is matched by that of his leading lady, Hedy Lamarr as “Theodore” the brash, staunchly Communist street car driver. The two share wonderful chemistry and banter.

You can’t really go wrong with Gable and Lamarr leading, especially in such fun roles, but the film also boasts a sassy supporting performance from Eve Arden. Arden’s character is somewhat one-dimensional and typical for her, but she adds so much spunk to any film, and she’s a great addition here.

The entire film is very spirited and energetic, moving along at a mile a minute and never letting up. Between the romantic comedy and the political intrigue, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

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(Image via Doctor Macro)

Comrade X does take somewhat of a more serious turn toward the end, with tons of people being killed and Mac being forced to bargain for the lives of several of his friends. But even then, there’s more excitement: they steal a tank to make their escape!

Fans of fun-poking political rom-coms like Ninotchka will enjoy this film, I can virtually guarantee. I personally had a great time with it, and would definitely recommend it.

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One thought on “Comrade X (1940)

  1. I love this film! The first time I stumbled across it on TCM as that tank chase was in process and I was was laughing so much I forgot to jot the title down so I could check and see when it was playing again as I wanted to watch it from the beginning.

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