Imagine if "Victory," John Huston's new World War II movie, had been shown in America while that war was going on. In a light-hearted way, it portrays the Allies as children, their leaders as collaborators, a Nazi POW camp as boys' summer camp and the conflict as color war. Sylvestor Stallone plays the petulant street kid who learns sportsmanship.
References are made in it to the Nazi propaganda machine, but it could hardly do such a thorough job as this American film.
The setting is the POW camp, where the prisoners play rousingly at soccer all day. The benevolent Nazi officer who runs it challenges them to a game against Germans, and agrees to give them special rations, professional uniforms and equipment, and unlimited practice time to give them a sporting chance. He rounds up all professional players from Allied countries from other prison camps to make a good team. It seems that the Nazi high command believes it will be a tremendous propaganda victory if they are able to defeat POWs at games.
And what's more, the Allied team gets so excited that they would rather win the game than escape from their captors.
The whole concept is so outrageous that it hardly leaves time for one to consider the details -- that the Nazis would hardly have played with a black athlete (Pele appears as a Trinidadian); that a prisoner's escaping and being recaptured is easily forgiven; that prisoners are doing their countries proud by cooperating in public exhibitions with their captors.
But, then, their captors are such reasonable and fair-minded people. Or at least they are in this film, in matters of war. On the soccer field, they kick and cheat.
It's getting so you can't trust anyone in war movies any more.
VICTORY -- At the Crofton Cinema, Hybla Valley, K-B Cerberus, Reston Twin, Roth's Parkway, University and Village Mall.