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American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Director: Michael Polish
Writers: Vance Owen (screenplay), Darryl Hicks
Stars: Al Pacino, Meadow Williams, Thomas Kretschmann
Eccentric, brilliant lawyer James Laughlin boldly accepts the case to defend American entertainer Mildred Gillars from ten counts of treason charged by the US government regardless of the inevitable backlash from his country. During WWII, Mildred became a powerful weapon in the hands of the Nazis and was forced to sing defeatist war propaganda to US soldiers based in Europe. Terrorized and raped by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s right-hand man, Mildred broadcasts hate-filled messages in order to survive the dark and dangerous world of the Third Reich. Despite attempting to murder Goebbels, Mildred is eventually captured by American authorities and sent to trial where, against all odds, Laughlin struggles to redeem her reputation and maintain his own.
You can’t truly forgive someone who isn’t repentant. The author attempts to make his subject sympathetic, but “Axis Sally” eliminates that possibility with her selfish life choices and arrogant refusal to accept the accompanying consequences. Gillars had plenty of opportunities to avoid the situation she faced with the Nazis, but chose to ignore the dangers so she could be with her lover. Lois Zamperini faced a similar situation during WWII (broadcast propaganda for the Japanese or face internment), he made the hard choice and survived two years of torture and starvation. He returned home a hero. Miss Gillars was paid very well and had her ego stroked for taunting and trying her best to discourage American youth fighting against an evil dictator. How did she think she would be treated after the war?
She lived to be 88 and never once admitted that what she did was wrong. Most people gain wisdom with age. Apparently she was immune. This was a woman who said the most horrible racist things imaginable on the air for years. She claims that she didn’t know what was happening to the Jews during the war. So you saw them being beaten in the streets, stores and synagogues burned, hundreds of discriminatory laws passed, almost every speech blamed Jews for all problems in society, and you were surprised when you found out that they were being systematically killed? The author doesn’t mention if she ever recanted her hate for the Jewish people. I’m not sure what we learn from the Axis Sally story other than a self-centered life is a wasted and unhappy life.
In a PEOPLE exclusive look at the first trailer for American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally, the Oscar winner takes on the real story of lawyer James Laughlin who defends Mildred Gillars, an American woman accused of treason for broadcasting Nazi propaganda to U.S. troops during World War II.
“You are right now at this very moment the most hated person in America,” Laughlin tells Gillars (played by Meadow Williams). “Eight counts of treason.”
Facing the death penalty, Gillars, then known as Axis Sally, was accused of destroying the “morale” of U.S. troops through her broadcasts, which she claimed she did under duress.
“I did what I could to survive. I had no choices,” she says. “Men have been taking advantage of me my whole life.”