Reader Mark Bonacquisti informs me that tomorrow afternoon at 3, eastern time, Turner Classic Movies will be airing Mission to Moscow. No, not the Police Academy sequel: This is a World War 2-era picture aimed at showing Americans just how wonderful the USSR is. Directed by Michael Curtiz and written by Howard Koch -- the director and co-writer of Casablanca -- it's one of the few universally despised movies that's even worse than its reputation. The film doesn't just laud the Soviet economy and glorify Stalin; it defends the purges, complete with a quarter-hour dedicated to arguing that Leon Trotsky was a Nazi agent.
It would be a terrible movie even if its politics weren't so repulsive: It's stiffly acted, poorly plotted, padded with stock footage, and just generally clumsy. But it's a must for fans of propaganda kitsch.
(Did I say it was universally despised? My mistake: Leonard Maltin gives it three and a half stars.)