Guilty of Treason (February 20, 1950)

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Charles Bickford in Guilty of Treason
 

Released on February 20, 1950: The true story of Hungarian resistance to Russian rule by Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty and other Hungarian patriots.

Directed by Felix E. Feist

The Actors: Charles Bickford (Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty), Bonita Granville (Stephanie Varna, school music teacher), Paul Kelly (Tom Kelly), Richard Derr (Soviet Colonel Aleksandr Melnikov), Roland Winters (Soviet Comissar), Berry Kroeger (Hungarian State Police Colonel Timar), John Banner (Doctor Szandor Deste), Alfred Linder (Janos, waiter), Thomas Browne Henry (Hungarian Secret Police Colonel Gabriel Peter), Nestor Paiva (Hungarian Vice Premier Matyas Rakosi), Morgan Farley (Doctor), Lisa Howard (Soviet Official at School), Elisabeth Risdon (Mother Mindszenty), Gene Roth (Russian soldier in Kelly's bathroom), Kenneth MacDonald (Major arresting Mindszenty), John Bleifer (waiter), Peter Brocco (Judge Vilmos Oltey), William Forrest (speaker at the Overseas Press Club), Sam Harris (restaurant diner), Jeffrey Sayre (Hungarian statesman), Joseph Stalin (himself, archive footage), Brick Sullivan (courtroom observer / transcriber)

 

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Cold War in a Hot World

When I was a much younger man in the 1980's I lived for a while in North Olmsted, Ohio, a Western suburb of Cleveland, and one of my neighbors was an elderly couple originally from Hungary. The husband grew amazing roses around his home, and one spring I decided to plant some roses. My neighbor came over and started chatting, and as I was digging the holes to plant the roses that I had purchased, he asked me to wait a minute while he went back to his garage to get something. He brought back a large bag of manure and told me that his secret to beautiful roses was manure. As he was putting manure from the bag generously around my roses he commented, "Roses do not like manure, young man . . . roses LOVE manure. Put plenty around each plant every year to keep them fresh and lovely." But that is not my most vivid memory of that elderly Hungarian neighbor as I watch this movie, but rather a conversation we had one warm summer evening sitting in the shade of his back yard and sipping cold beer. I lived through the post WWII 'cold war' but knew little actual history of it. I knew that Russia was one of the countries that helped the world crush Hitler, and that something happened after the war that put us at odds with the Soviet Union, but no real knowledge of what went on. That summer evening I sat enthralled as he told me how he happened to leave Hungary and make his way to America. He and his wife were very young adults when WWII ended, when Russian soldiers replaced the Nazi's and continued the oppression of the country. Russia dominated several countries after the war, trying to make them part of Russia, creating the Soviet Union - a union of nations ruled and dominated by Mother Russia. One of the big thrusts of those days was the Russian opposition to organized religion. Joseph Stalin, the head of Russia and the Soviet Union believed that churches - all churches - were enemies of the state and must be crushed. My neighbor and his wife were part of an organized resistance in Hungary fighting the Russians whenever and wherever they could. One day they discovered that they were about to be arrested, so they fled the country on foot with whatever they could carry. Walking for days, yes weeks, they travelled as secretly as they could, stealing food from farmhouses as they travelled to keep from starving to death. Well out of Hungary they were finally discovered and put into an enclosed refugee camp with more people from Hungary and other Soviet Union countries that had fled. They were fed and kept by the Red Cross while they were advised on settling in another country. After many months in the refugee camp my neighbor and his wife were allowed to come to the United States to make a new life. He found a job in a small factory and worked for many years before retiring. When I moved next to him he and his wife were enjoying a quiet life after a treacherous journey from their beloved home land to far away North Olmsted. I am still in awe of his spirit, his determination to fight for freedom, and his love of life even after being forced to make a new life far from his home and friends. As I watched this true story of Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty and the courageous Hungarian patriots fighting Russian oppression in post WWII Hungary I could easily imagine my neighbor as one of the young rebels trying to stop the Russian soldiers from changing his country into one that he didn't want to be a part of. Pop a bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter on it and enjoy a slice of history that few living today can remember.

Alfred Linder and Paul Kelly
Alfred Linder and Paul Kelly
Berry Kroeger as Hungarian State Police Colonel Timar
Berry Kroeger as Hungarian State Police Colonel Timar
Bonita Granville and Paul Kelly talk to Cardinal Mindszenty on his family farm
Bonita Granville and Paul Kelly talk to Cardinal Mindszenty on his family farm
Bonita Granville as Stephanie Varna is tortured by the Russians
Bonita Granville as Stephanie Varna is tortured by the Russians
Bonita Granville as Stephanie Varna in Guilty of Treason
Bonita Granville as Stephanie Varna in Guilty of Treason
Charles Bickford and Elisabeth Risdon
Charles Bickford and Elisabeth Risdon
Charles Bickford as Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty leading Christmas services
Charles Bickford as Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty leading Christmas services
Charles Bickford as Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty on his family farm
Charles Bickford as Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty on his family farm
John Banner and Alfred LInder
John Banner and Alfred LInder
John Banner in Guilty of Treason
John Banner in Guilty of Treason
Joseph Stalin archive footage in Guilty of Treason
Joseph Stalin archive footage in Guilty of Treason
Nestor Paiva as Hungarian Vice Premier Matyas Rakosi
Nestor Paiva as Hungarian Vice Premier Matyas Rakosi
Paul Kelly as reporter Tom Kelly
Paul Kelly as reporter Tom Kelly
Paul Kelly as reporter Tom Kelly faces the Soviet Comissar
Paul Kelly as reporter Tom Kelly faces the Soviet Comissar
Richard Derr and Bonita Granville
Richard Derr and Bonita Granville
Richard Derr as Soviet Colonel Aleksandr Melnikov
Richard Derr as Soviet Colonel Aleksandr Melnikov
Roland Winters as Soviet Commissar Belov
Roland Winters as Soviet Commissar Belov
Rolland Winters in Guilty of Treason
Rolland Winters in Guilty of Treason
Thomas Browne Henry as Hungarian Secret Police Colonel Gabriel Peter
Thomas Browne Henry as Hungarian Secret Police Colonel Gabriel Peter
William Forrest in Guilty of Treason
William Forrest in Guilty of Treason