Tomorrow, the World! (1944) - full review!
Directed by Leslie Fenton, with a screenplay by Leopold Atlas (Story of G.I. Joe (1945)) and ("soon to be blacklisted" as one of the Hollywood Ten, for refusing to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee) Ring Lardner Jr. (Woman of the Year (1942)), this above average drama features a compelling performance by Skip Homeier (reprising his role from the Broadway play), who plays a 12 year old Nazi that comes to live with a friend of his deceased father, in America. Emil Bruckner (Homeier) is the son of a great man, a German known for resisting Nazi Party leaders until they tortured and killed him. Emil, however, had been brainwashed into believing the party line - that his father had died a coward. The family the boy comes to live with is headed by a university professor working for the war effort, Mike Frame (Fredric March), who along with fellow teacher & fiancée Leona Richards (Betty Field) must come to grips with their liberal ideology and child raising philosophy in the face of this young fascist. Joan Carroll plays Frame's daughter Pat, Agnes Moorehead his live-in sister Jessie, and Edit Angold their German immigrant maid Frieda. Whereas The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) dabbles with this subject of preteen boys being committed to Nazism, this film delves into it much more deeply until it comes to a resolution.
Mike, as his daughter Pat (Carroll) is able to call him, is excited that his former friend Karl Bruckner's son Emil is coming from Germany to live with them. After the death (?) of her mother, Pat and Mike became very close to one another. As the World War rages in Europe and the South Pacific, professor Frame's work is important to the Allies effort to defeat the Nazis. Mike is also happy that he's just convinced his girlfriend Leona (Field) to stay and be his wife vs. taking an offered assignment to pursue a career in Chicago. Mike's lonely sister Jessie, anticipating her role in the household being diminished, isn't so excited about this news, and makes plans to visit other family and friends in another part of the country.
But this extended family is wholly unprepared Emil, who's been indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth and is committed to the Nazi cause. Only weeks from his twelfth birthday, Emil is already a highly confident, prejudicial boy who's received training in ballistics and other forms of warfare. He begins a psychological battle against Leona right away. He not only refuses to acknowledge any authority she may have over him as his assigned schoolteacher, after all she's female and Jewish (!), he decides to undermine her relationship with Mike, to whom he manages to hide his true nature the longest. Later, Emil's "divide and conquer strategy" begins to work as he causes a rift between Mike and Leona. Pat, who takes no nonsense from Emil, is optimistic and determined to help change him (e.g. into a more normal American boy). She introduces Emil to her friends, which include a Polish boy (Rudy Wissler, uncredited) and a girl (Patsy Anne Thompson, uncredited) whose soldier father is currently in a concentration camp in Germany. Emil dismisses the "inferior Pole" and then makes him late for school, after which he exploits the girl to conceal his deed.
Leona catches on to Emil's duplicity right away, but Mike believes that Emil just needs time to see that his head was filled with lies, like the fate of his father, and that the boy will learn and adjust if given the chance. Jessie, who wants to deport Emil, and all Germans, the minute she sees him in his Hitler Youth uniform, is later charmed by him as he uses her loneliness and "jealousy" of Leona to advantage. The family maid Frieda serves as an example of a German who immigrated to America such that she now calls it her home, and herself an American. Naturally, she doesn't trust Emil either. On the day of Emil's birthday party, arranged by Pat and Leona, Pat catches Emil taking Mike's keys to get at secret documents kept locked in the desk. Though Pat convinces Emil to put the keys back in Mike's suit pocket, Emil then threatens Pat not to tell about his deceit. Not taking Emil's demands seriously, Pat turns his back on Emil who nearly kills her with a fireplace implement.
Mike finally realizes what Leona's been trying to tell him, and the Polish boy gets his payback. The ending, Emil's realization, is a bit contrived, but certainly satisfactory.