Fascism on Film: The Mortal Storm and A Special Day

Fascism is on the rise again throughout the world. That sentence is disturbing. But it is why Jim and Teal felt they should begin a series focusing on how fascism has been portrayed and handled in film over the years. For their first installment, Jim and Teal look at two films that tackle the subject in very different ways.

The Mortal Storm (1940) is a movie Jim and Teal had not heard of until beginning this journey. It stars Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. It tells the story of a German professor’s family in 1933, on the day Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany. The movie makes no bones about what’s happening in Europe, and it proves America knew what was happening too. The destruction of one family torn apart by the identity politics and rise of authoritarianism is more potent than ever, thanks to the same rumblings occurring today.

A Special Day (1977) is an Italian movie that feels like it’s been forgotten, but its message is timely and compelling. Starring arguably Italy’s two biggest stars, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, A Special Day is a stunning movie examining how the accelerating rise of fascism impacts the daily lives of the citizens who lived through it. It is a personal story of two strangers, brought together by extraordinary events, featuring two towering performances in a movie that has lasting power over anyone who watches it.

Jim and Teal will bring you more episodes like this one in 2023, and we hope that you will seek out these films with a new lens on why they are important, and how film must play a role in bringing the world these stories.

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  1. Great episode! May I suggest Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion for the next episode? Thats another great Italian film about fascism.

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