Large Print Reviews
Nazi Eyes on Canada
A CBC Radio Play starring Orson Wells, Vincent Price, Helen Hayes...
Nazi Eyes on Canada
A CBC Radio Play starring Orson Wells, Vincent Price, Helen Hayes and others in this full cast production.
By Alan King and Produced by J. Frank Willis
A vintage radio play on two audio cassettes
Genre: History, Fantasy
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - August 6, 2001
In 1942, the end of World War II was still years away. The Allies where sure that they would win the war, but the Axis powers were equally convinced of their own, eventual triumph. In 1942, no one could honestly predict who would be victorious. This fact, perhaps more than anything, makes, and made, Nazi Eyes on Canada such a compelling and unnerving play.
Nazi Eyes on Canada originally aired 1942 on CBC Radio, a component of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. This play was a full cast production and featured such notables as Orson Welles, Vincent Price, Helen Hayes, Judith Evelyn, House Jameson, Quentin Reynolds (the noted war correspondent), Katherine Raht, and Lorne Greene. It aired in five parts and was preceded a few weeks previously by an address given by W. L. Mackenzie King. King was the then Prime Minister of Canada and he exhorted his fellow Canadians to throw all of their support and backing into the war effort. He emphasized that this was vital because the conclusion of the conflict was not certain. If the country gave less than its all, there was the possibility that they might actually lose the war! This address has been included in the Scenario Productions edition of Nazi Eyes on Canada.
In 1942, life is Canada was still good. There were war restrictions and many families saw their children enter the Service. Yet, for the most part Canada was untouched by the war when compared to other countries, such as Britain. Nazi Eyes on Canada served, in an undeniable way, to show what might happen if Canadians gave anything but their all to the war effort. If they failed in their mission to stem the Nazi tide, Canada herself might fall under the heel of Nazi domination!
Nazi Eyes on Canada is purportedly based upon reports written by Colin Ross, a Nazi spy who traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada in the 1930's. He wrote, for his masters, a discourse on his observations, and his suggestions on how best to conquer - and control - the peoples of North America. Each of the five chapters in Nazi Eyes on Canada focus on a real Canadian family or individual. Each story shows what their life is 'now', in a free Canada. It then jumps to the future, showing how their lives changed under Nazi domination. Gone are the carefree, hopeful days of yore. Under the grinding heel of the Nazi boot, life has become a living misery. Hope and hopelessness are juxtaposed, clearly showing the horrors that awaited Canadians if Canada were to fall to the Nazi's.
These sketches are not for the faint of heart. The incidences depicted in this play are based on real instances of Nazi aggression. These plays portray a Canada in which young and healthy Canadian women are forced to 'breed' for the Nazi's. A Canada in which slave laborers and concentration camps are part of the landscape. A Canada in which children are taken from their families and turned into automatons that worship only the Nazi state. A Canada in which entire cities can be held accountable for the actions of one person, and if judged guilty, razed to the ground and its inhabitants slaughtered.
Was this a propaganda play? Most defiantly. But it was also a wake up call, a wake up call to the people of Canada to remind them of just how precious their freedoms are, and why it is, and was, so important to fight to preserve them. It should also be a wake up call for the people of today. It is easy to become complacent about ones life. If you are content and happy, why worry about what is happening - over there. The reason is simple, Evil is like a noxious weed. If not cut out by the root as soon as its appears, it will spread and eventually choke out everything that is fine and beautiful - and by then it may be almost impossible to undo the damage.
Nazi Eyes on Canada is a fascinating piece, both from a historical and cultural perspective. Overall, the sound quality of these tapes is excellent. However, there are slight differences in the sound quality from chapter to chapter, but nothing very noticeable. The five 'chapters' of this play are actually self-contained stories that can be listened to individually. However, their full impact is only felt when all the chapters are listened to as a whole. The cast is marvelous, and their performances are heart wrenching in their sincerity. I highly recommend this radio play to anyone interested in WWII, Canadian History, 'what if' scenarios, and just plain, old fashion, quality entertainment. And, oh yeah, don't forget to buy some Victory bonds....
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