Men Must Fight (1933)

Article #861 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-24-2003
Posting Date: 12-21-2003
Directed by Edgar Selwyn
Featuring Diana Wynyard, Lewis Stone, Phillips Holmes

A woman becomes pregnant by a man who then dies during World War I. When a new war begins in 1940, she tries to prevent her son from going to war.

Title check: The title is quite appropriate in its way, considering the way the story works out.

As far as anti-war movies go, I prefer ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT or J’ACCUSE (the sound version of this one also falls into the category of fantastic cinema); this one has its points, but it is endlessly preachy. It falls into the category of science fiction as it takes place seven years after the year it was made; the Euroasian war of this movie bears a much greater resemblance to WWI than it does WWII, starting off as it does with an assassination. It does explore something of the difficulty of standing up against a war when patriotism runs rampant and pacifism is interpreted as cowardice. There is some footage of New York getting bombed, but it takes up no more than a minute or so of screen time; the rest is stagebound talk. The ending is even a hair ambiguous; we do not learn the ultimate fate of the son, for example. Nevertheless, this movie could be used as an effective starting point for discussions on the nature of war, pacifism, courage and other related issues.


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