One is righteously tempted to make a joke along the lines of "here's Uncle Joe, he's a moving kinda slow," but one resists, and everybody's happy.
But really, have you ever seen a Stalin with such soulful eyes? That's character actor Manart Kippen as the dictator, explaining it all to U.S. Ambassador the the Soviet Union Joseph Davies (Walter Huston) in 1943's Mission To Moscow, one of the most unimpeachably bizarre cinematic efforts to solidify U.S./U.S.S.R. fellow-feeling in the most crucial days of World War II. The picture is going to be shown on TCM on January 20, as part of the series "Shadows of Russia," co-programmed by my pals Lou Lumenick of the New York Post and The Self-Styled Siren herself, Farran Nehme Smith. (Farran's written more about the series here; Lou, about Mission, here.) But, if you're lucky enough to reside in the tri-state area, as we call it, you can see this mind-bending picture on the big screen, followed by a panel discussion featuring Lou, Farran, my own self, and film historian Ed Hulse. It's at the BAM Rose Cinema, Tuesday, January 12 at 7 p.m., and the details are here. I'm gonna bring my iPod and play the oddball novelty gospel hit "Stalin Wasn't Stallin'" by the Golden Gate Quartet if I can, as I'll be focusing on weird pop culture depictions of Stalin from the WWII era. Hope to see you there!