The Mortal Storm (1940)

100 mins | Drama | 14 June 1940

Director:

Frank Borzage

Cinematographer:

William Daniels

Editor:

Elmo Vernon

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to a news item in HR, Judith Anderson and Scotty Beckett were originally cast as Mrs. Roth and one of her sons, but were replaced because they were unsuited for the roles. Additional news items in HR state that the special mountain snow scenes were filmed at Salt Lake City, UT by Leonard Smith and Lloyd Knechtel and that other scenes were shot at Sun Valley, ID. Modern sources credit Richard Rosson with the second unit direction in Sun Valley. In August 1940, a HR article reported that writer Al Rosen filed a lawsuit against Loew's, Frank Borzage, Claudine West, Anderson Ellis and George Froeschel, among others, for incorporating the plot of his novel Mad Dog of Europe into The Mortal Storm. HR added in Mar 1943 that he was still seeking an injunction, damages and impounding of the film, but the outcome of the case has not been determined. An unidentified contemporary source contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library noted an unconfirmed report that the Nazis banned all M-G-M films because of this film. The film was included in FD 's "ten best" list for 1940. HR reported in Apr 1942 that The Mortal Storm was the first anti-Nazi film to run in Brazil, where it broke box-office attendance records.
       A modern source credits Victor Saville as producer and indicates that Saville refused onscreen credit because he was British and did not want to be accused of inciting America to war. According to an article in LAEx on 10 ...

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According to a news item in HR, Judith Anderson and Scotty Beckett were originally cast as Mrs. Roth and one of her sons, but were replaced because they were unsuited for the roles. Additional news items in HR state that the special mountain snow scenes were filmed at Salt Lake City, UT by Leonard Smith and Lloyd Knechtel and that other scenes were shot at Sun Valley, ID. Modern sources credit Richard Rosson with the second unit direction in Sun Valley. In August 1940, a HR article reported that writer Al Rosen filed a lawsuit against Loew's, Frank Borzage, Claudine West, Anderson Ellis and George Froeschel, among others, for incorporating the plot of his novel Mad Dog of Europe into The Mortal Storm. HR added in Mar 1943 that he was still seeking an injunction, damages and impounding of the film, but the outcome of the case has not been determined. An unidentified contemporary source contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library noted an unconfirmed report that the Nazis banned all M-G-M films because of this film. The film was included in FD 's "ten best" list for 1940. HR reported in Apr 1942 that The Mortal Storm was the first anti-Nazi film to run in Brazil, where it broke box-office attendance records.
       A modern source credits Victor Saville as producer and indicates that Saville refused onscreen credit because he was British and did not want to be accused of inciting America to war. According to an article in LAEx on 10 Sep 1941, Senator Gerald P. Nye wanted to summon Saville to testitfy before a sub-committee investigating "British agents operating in the film industry." In the modern article, Saville claims that he directed parts of the film; however, another modern source, that includes interviews with James Stewart, Robert Stack and Gene Reynolds, indicates that those actors refute Saville's claim that he worked as a director on the film. Modern sources credit Henry S. Noerdlinger as technical director and Bronislau Kaper with additional music for the film. A few scenes from the film were included in the 1992 Twentieth Century-Fox picture Shining Through, directed by David Seltzer, and starring Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
CREDIT
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1940
p. 3
Film Daily
11 Jun 1940
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 1940
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1940
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1940
p. 13
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1940
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1940
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1940
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1940
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1940
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1942
p. 13
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 1943
p. 7
Los Angeles Examiner
10 Sep 1941
---
Motion Picture Daily
13 Jun 1940
p. 5
Motion Picture Herald
15 Jun 1940
p. 42
New York Times
21 Jun 1940
p. 25
New York Times
23 Jun 1940
p. 3
Variety
12 Jun 1940
p. 14
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Frank Borzage Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
WRITERS
Anderson Ellis
Scr
George Froeschel
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's cost
MUSIC
Edward Kane
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Mortal Storm by Phyllis Bottome (London, 1937).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 June 1940
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 Jun 1940
Production Date:
8 Feb--mid Apr 1940
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Loew's Inc.
10 June 1940
LP9722
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
100
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6230
SYNOPSIS

In a small German university town in 1933, a birthday celebration for Professor Viktor Roth is interrupted by the news that Hitler has been appointed chancellor. Roth, who is non-Aryan, his daughter Freya, and Martin Breitner, a family friend who loves Freya, are apprehensive about Hitler's rise, but Roth's stepsons, Otto and Erich Von Rohn, and Fritz Marberg, Freya's new fiancé, are enthusiastic. The town's Nazis soon begin to inflict violence on their ideological adversaries and on non-Aryans, and Roth's stepsons leave his house. Freya breaks with Fritz and comes to return Martin's love, but the lovers are separated when Martin, who has helped a non-Aryan friend leave the country, is stranded in Austria. For refusing to acknowledge a difference between Aryan and non-Aryan blood, Roth loses his teaching position and is interned in a concentration camp, and his family's frantic efforts to locate him result only in a brief visit before his mysterious death. On their way to Austria, Freya and Mrs. Roth are detained for carrying Roth's manuscript, and Freya is forced to stay in Germany indefinitely. Martin, however, returns for Freya and as the couple make their way through a difficult mountain pass, they are in sight of Austria when a Nazi patrol, led by Fritz, locates them. The lovers reach the border, but Freya dies shortly after from a gunshot wound incurred during the ...

More Less

In a small German university town in 1933, a birthday celebration for Professor Viktor Roth is interrupted by the news that Hitler has been appointed chancellor. Roth, who is non-Aryan, his daughter Freya, and Martin Breitner, a family friend who loves Freya, are apprehensive about Hitler's rise, but Roth's stepsons, Otto and Erich Von Rohn, and Fritz Marberg, Freya's new fiancé, are enthusiastic. The town's Nazis soon begin to inflict violence on their ideological adversaries and on non-Aryans, and Roth's stepsons leave his house. Freya breaks with Fritz and comes to return Martin's love, but the lovers are separated when Martin, who has helped a non-Aryan friend leave the country, is stranded in Austria. For refusing to acknowledge a difference between Aryan and non-Aryan blood, Roth loses his teaching position and is interned in a concentration camp, and his family's frantic efforts to locate him result only in a brief visit before his mysterious death. On their way to Austria, Freya and Mrs. Roth are detained for carrying Roth's manuscript, and Freya is forced to stay in Germany indefinitely. Martin, however, returns for Freya and as the couple make their way through a difficult mountain pass, they are in sight of Austria when a Nazi patrol, led by Fritz, locates them. The lovers reach the border, but Freya dies shortly after from a gunshot wound incurred during the chase.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.