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In 1936, progressive corporate lawyer Joseph E. Davies is called away from a vacation by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appoints him ambassador to the Soviet Union. On the way to Russia with his wife Marjorie and daughter Emlen, Davies stops in Germany, where he witnesses firsthand the country's military build-up. By the time Davies leaves Germany, he is convinced that Hitler's government is determined to go to war. On arrival in Moscow, Davies is greeted by Mikhail Kalinin, the chairman of the All-Union Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union. During their meeting, Davies makes it clear that although he is a confirmed capitalist, he intends to keep an open mind and see as much as he can before making his report. In order to accomplish this, Davies travels throughout the country. He visits a tractor factory where tractors that can be quickly converted to tanks are manufactured, as well as the Kneiper Dam; a steel plant; oil fields near the Caspian Sea; coal mines and cooperative farms. Davies is impressed by the rapid pace of Russian industrialization. Along the way, he also hears stories of sabotage. While Davies is gone, Marjorie visits the wife of Soviet premiere Molotov, who heads the cosmetic industry, and learns that many Soviet wives hold down jobs. On his return, Davies gives his impressions of what he has seen to Molotov and Maksim Litvinov, the Russian delegate to the League of Nations, who had argued futilely in favor of a united front against the fascists after the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. In 1937, Joseph Stalin, head of the Communist party, orders a purge of the army. During the trial, faithfully attended by Davies, many of the arrested men confess to crimes against the Soviet state that were masterminded by Leon Trotsky, who is living outside the country. They testify that Trotsky planned to aid a fascist invasion of the U.S.S.R. and then overthrow the weakened Soviet government. Although other countries are outraged by the purge, Davies believes that the testimony is truthful. On May Day, 1938, the Davieses witness an impressive display of Russian military might. Later, the Chinese ambassador takes Davies to see some of the people wounded by the Japanese in the recent attacks on Shanghai. Many of the wounded, who are being cared for in Russian hospitals, are women and children. Davies' appointment comes to an end and, during his farewell dinner, he learns that Hitler has invaded Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia. Before Davies leaves, Stalin explains to him that reactionary elements in England are encouraging Germany to invade Russia and warns that if the anti-fascists do not band together to stop Hitler, the Soviet government will be forced to sign a non-aggression pact with Germany in order to gain time to amass its military force. On his way back to America, Davies meets with Winston Churchill, an important figure in the British government, asking him to encourage a stand against Hitler. At a meeting in Munich in September 1938, however, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sanctions Hitler's dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. In the United States, convinced that war will come, Davies asks the government to amend the Neutrality Act of 1937. The U.S. senators, however, do not believe that Hitler has the military strength to beat England and France. Events prove them wrong, and after the Nazi invasion of Russia and the fall of Paris, Davies travels through the U.S. carrying his message to the people, but fails to convince many Americans, who see the war as a chance to make a profit. On 7 December 1941, however, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and the Russians and the United States become allies.