American Traitor : The Trial of Axis Sally Review: Classic Al Pacino Can’t Save Dull War Drama
American Traitor: The Axis Sally Trial tells the true story of Nazi propagandist Mildred Gillars. Born in Maine, Gillars moved to Germany in the mid-1930s to pursue her dreams as a singer and stage performer. It became the American voice of the RRG (German State Radio) of the Third Reich. He exposed Nazi superiority and anti-Semitic doctrine to millions of listeners in Europe and the United States. Like their infamous 20th century cohorts, Tokyo Rose and Hanoi Hannah, Axis Sally’s sweet shades were quite effective and considered high treason.
Director Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Force of nature) adapts the novel “Axis Sally Confidential” by William E. Owen, who began his legal career as an assistant defense attorney at his trial. The film begins with archival footage from World War II. The aspect ratio changes to letterbox with Mildred Gillars (Meadow Williams) being arrested by American soldiers for treason shortly after the fall of Germany. The time period jumps to 1948 Washington, DC James Laughlin, magnificently portrayed by Al Pacino, a theatrical lawyer known for defending communists, the government assigns her defense.
American Traitor: The Axis Sally Trial It then goes back to 1941 when Gillars was recruited by her lover, Max Otto Koischwitz (Carsten Norgaard), to perform on the radio. Catch the eyes and ears of the despicable Joseph Goebbels (Thomas Kretschmann). Who uses it to broadcast propaganda reports to American soldiers, and equally important, to their families at home. The Americans were heading to certain death against an invincible enemy. Why waste their lives for the “crippled” Franklin Roosevelt and the British when their economy is in shambles?
Mildred Gillars dressed like a movie star during her trial. Laughlin despised his arrogance. But he quickly gained the sympathy of his naive junior attorney, Billy (Swen Temmel). As the prosecution paraded witnesses and showed their recordings to the jury, Laughlin posited that he had no other choice. Disobedience meant death. The flashbacks continue with Gillars learning Nazi brutality the hard way. His judgment was reduced to a simple discussion. Did Mildred Gillars quit her country and voluntarily promote the Nazi regime? Or was he a forced accessory to mass murder and unfathomable genocide?
American Traitor: The Axis Sally Trial it’s a jerky movie with multiple problems. Let’s start with what works. Al Pacino is fantastic as James Laughlin. His courtroom scenes are fascinating. The muted cinematography, dark colors, and archival newscasts sell the need for retaliation after the war. The problem is, the movie never fully grabs you. There are long, boring stretches where the ensemble cast seems downright boring. Her backstory in Germany confuses her love for Max Koischwitz and Goebbles’ repeated assaults. Worse still, any sympathy for the Gillars situation is completely deflated. Meadow Williams, a veteran actress and filmmaker, is warm and cool in her portrayal of Axis Sally. The lack of cohesion must be attributed to Michael Polish. You can’t capitalize on what worked. Resulting in a mixed effort that is ultimately unsuccessful.
The issue of equal justice before the law is not lost. Mildred Gillars, despite her treasonous acts, deserved a fair trial by an impartial jury. The strength of democracy is maintained when the rule of law prevails. I wish the movie had conveyed this message in a better way. Be careful, there are graphic rape scenes. American Traitor: The Axis Sally Trial It is produced by Pimienta, EFO Films and Potato Eater Productions. It is currently available on demand and in a limited theatrical release from Redbox Entertainment and Vertical Entertainment.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Newzpanda.