4_This Land is Mine

Episode 4: This Land is Mine

Episode Summary

This Land is Mine is a movie released in 1943 and frankly it’s a pretty boring watch.  It’s visually dull.  The characters talk way too much.  But there are some interesting things about it.  For example:

  1. It was made in Hollywood and released during the Second World War.
  2. It’s a propaganda movie about life in Nazi occupied Europe.
  3. The Nazis in the film don’t like killing people.
  4. The collaborators in the film are just trying to save lives.


…I’m sorry, what?



Link to the Wikipedia article




Stuff too cool to fit in the episode

If you’d like to know more about Dr Vincent O’Donnell, my academic guide through this episode, you can find his bio here.  And if you’d like to hear more of Vincent’s awesome radio voice, you should tune into his radio show Arts Alive, distributed nationally through the Community Radio Network.



Here’s the New York Times review that refers to the film as “loquacious beyond excuse”.  But it’s much more lenient on the film than French reviewers would be (more on that next episode!).



If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Hollywood in podcast form, I really recommend You Must Remember This.  The show is hosted by Karina Longworth, and each week she explores the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.  She did a series on the blacklist that follows neatly on from this episode, and really influenced my understanding of Hollywood history.



How great is Casablanca?  Here, have some classic Captain Renault, on the house.


When I was researching this episode, every time I wrote the words This Land is Mine I would get one of two songs in my head.  The first was ‘This Land Is Your Land‘ by Woody Guthrie, and interestingly the history of this song is a little tied up with This Land is Mine.  The song was written in 1940 and first recorded in 1944, so it’s pretty contemporaneous with the film, but the song wasn’t released until 1951.  There’s no evidence that the song was named after the movie, or vice versa.  In fact the song was originally written in response to Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’, and was originally, sarcastically called ‘God Blessed America for Me’.  The original lyrics included this verse:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

This verse was on the version recorded in 1944, but not on the version released in 1951.  In the opinion of Woody’s daughter Nora Guthrie, the reason why that verse wasn’t included on the recording was “This is the early ’50s, and [U.S. Sen. Joseph] McCarthy’s out there, and it was considered dangerous in many ways to record this kind of material.” So ‘This Land is Your Land’ was subject to the same kind of censorship as ‘This Land is Mine’. You can learn more about the history of ‘This Land is Your Land’ here.



The second song that always came into my head when I wrote the words This Land is Mine was:

Which does not have any connection to This Land is Mine, as far as I know.  But is a hell of an ear worm.



Jean Renoir, who directed This Land is Mine, was the son of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir


That’s right, that Renoir.  Cool huh? Okay, brace yourself for a bibliography.




Bazin A, 1974, Jean Renoir, W.H. Allen

Davis C, 2012, Postwar Renoir : film and the memory of violence, Routledge

Doherty T, 2013, Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939, Columbia University Press

Durgnat, R, 1974, Jean Renoir, University of California Press

Faulkner C, 2007, Jean Renoir: a conversation with his films 1894-1979, Taschen

Faulkner C, 1979, Jean Renoir : a guide to references and resources, G. K. Hall

Gassner J and Nichols D, 1943, Twenty best film plays, Crown Publishers

Horne, G, 2006, The Final Victim of the Blacklist: John Howard Lawson, Dean of the Hollywood Ten, University of California Press

Humphries R, 2010, Hollywood’s Blacklists: A Political and Cultural History, Edinburgh University Press

Koppes C R and Black G D, 1990, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies, University of California Press

Leprohon P, 1971, Jean Renoir: An Investigation, Crown Publishers

O’Shaughnessy M, 2000, Jean Renoir, Manchester University Press

Singer K, 1954, The Charles Laughton Story, Robert Hale

Vitanza E, 2007, Rewriting the Rules of the Game: Jean Renoir in America, 1941 – 1947  (dissertation),  University of California




King Kong (1933). Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, written by James Creelman and Ruth Rose.

The Wizard of Oz (1939). Directed by Victor Fleming, written by Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson.

Idiot’s Delight (1939). Directed by Clarence Brown, written by Robert E. Sherwood.

Casablanca (1942). Directed by Michael Curtiz, written by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch.

This Land is Mine (1943). Directed by Jean Renoir, written by Dudley Nichols.

Song of Russia (1944).  Directed by Gregory Ratoff, written by Paul Jarrico and Richard Collins.


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