"The Americans will bring speeches, the British games with balls and bats, the Russians will bring music and philosophise about the future. The only people in Kolar who'll have no say about the future of Kolar will be the poverty-stricken people of Kolar... We're living in the present, not the past. We'd better keep our hates up to date."
The Master Race is an intriguing and surprisingly good bit of prescient propaganda from 1944 that anticipates an Allied victory over Hitler as well as the many problems the liberating armies would encounter in the same kind of shattered environment that gave birth to the Nazis in the first place. Not that it's the Nazis who are the real menace here but the same German elite who used and discarded them as it suited their own long-term plans for dominating Europe. They're led by George Coulouris, who discards his uniform for the identity of the dead anti-Nazi brother of a small Belgian town's most prominent collaborator, and sets about playing on the disaffection of the locals as they try to scrape a new life together in the ruins of the old one, reopening old wounds and sowing the seeds of suspicion against the benign Allies. Not that he's the only enemy: the relief of liberation gives way to old grudges and prejudices and feelings that they're being denied a say in their own future even without his help in a picture that's far from rosy even if it's a foregone conclusion that the forces of right will triumph over the far right by the end credits.
Shot in the ruins of the Hunchback of Notre Dame backlot sets, its wartime origins are noticeable in the equal time given to all the major combatants - the Americans may be in command, but an Englishman and a Russian are given an equal voice in joint decisions. The latter would cause many of those associated with the film some problems during the McCarthy witchhunts, not least co-writer-director Herbert J. Biberman, who became one of the Hollywood Ten, and blacklisted co-writer Anne Froelich.
Unfortunately, as with so many of their RKO titles, Odeon's UK DVD isn't great quality, offering an NTSC-to-PAL standards conversion that looks like it's been mastered from a video tape source with some print damage, sporadic blurring, the odd bit of overcropping on some shots and a hum on the soundtrack in places that's not as good as Warner Archive's US manufactured on demand NTSC DVD-R release. No extras on the UK DVD either.