World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Mortal Storm

The Mortal Storm
Directed by Frank Borzage
Produced by Frank Borzage
Victor Saville
Written by Phyllis Bottome (novel)
Screenplay by Claudine West
Hans Rameau
George Froeschel
Based on The Mortal Storm (1938 novel)
Starring Margaret Sullavan
James Stewart
Robert Young
Frank Morgan
Robert Stack
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Eugene Zador
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Lloyd Knechtel
Leonard Smith
Edited by Elmo Veron
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • June 14, 1940 (1940-06-14)
Running time
100 min.
Country United States
Language English
Frame from movie trailer
Margaret Sullavan in The Mortal Storm trailer
Dan Dailey and James Stewart in the trailer
Margaret Sullavan in the trailer
The original trailer

The Mortal Storm (Dan Dailey, Ward Bond and Maria Ouspenskaya,


  • Production background 1
  • Plot 2
  • Cast 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Production background

The Mortal Storm was one of the few directly anti-Nazi Hollywood films released before the American entry into World War II in December 1941. The film stars James Stewart as a German who refuses to join the rest of his small Bavarian town in supporting Nazism. He falls in love with Freya Roth (Margaret Sullavan), the daughter of a Junker mother and a "non-Aryan" father. The Mortal Storm was the last movie Sullavan and Stewart made together.

Freya and her father are implied to be Jews but the word "Jew" is never used, and they are only identified as "non-Aryans"; in addition, Freya's half brothers are all members of the Nazi Party. Though it is understood that the film is set in Germany, the name of the country is rarely mentioned except at the very beginning in a short text of introduction. MGM purposely did not mention the name of the country or the religion of Freya's family because of the large German market for its films, but it was to no avail—the movie infuriated the Nazi government and it led to all MGM films being banned in Germany.

The supporting cast features The Wizard of Oz the previous year), Dan Dailey, Ward Bond (John Wayne's co-star in 23 films, one of director John Ford's favorite ensemble actors, and later the lead in the television series Wagon Train), Maria Ouspenskaya, William T. Orr, and Bonita Granville, who was the first actress to play Nancy Drew onscreen.

The film is based on the 1938 novel The Mortal Storm by the British writer Phyllis Bottome. Mountain snow scenes were filmed at Salt Lake City, Utah and Sun Valley, Idaho.[3]

The score by award winning composer Bronislau Kaper and by Eugene Zador (who normally orchestrated) was not credited to them, but rather a pseudonym, "Edward Kane".


In 1933, Freya Roth (Frank Morgan), does not abide by the attitude of the new order towards scientific fact.

Though his stepsons Erich (William T. Orr) and Otto (Robert Stack) eagerly embrace the regime, their father's reluctance to conform leads at first to a boycott of his classes and eventually to his capture. He is imprisoned and made to work. His wife is permitted a five minute visit in which the professor urges her to take Freya and her younger brother and leave the country. He dies soon after.

Freya is kept from leaving by Nazi officials suspicious of her father's work. She reunites with Martin and together they attempt to escape through a mountain pass. A squad (reluctantly led by her former fiancee) gives chase and Freya is fatally wounded, dying in Martin's arms just after they cross the border. Later, Erich and Otto are informed of their sister's death. Though Erich responds with anger towards Martin; Otto seems repentant, wandering their once happy home before walking into the heavy snow.


See also


  1. ^ Variety film review; June 12, 1940, page 14.
  2. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; June 22, 1940, page 98.
  3. ^ Turner Classic Movies: The Mortal Storm (notes)

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.