Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The First Front was part one of Russian filmmaker Vladimir Petrov's two-part historical epic The Battle of Stalingrad. The hero of the piece is, of course, Josef Stalin (Alexei Dieky), who courageously (in this film at least) urges his countrymen to stand their ground as the Nazis lay siege to Stalingrad in 1941. One suspects that Petrov's positive portrayal of Stalin as a cunning, cool-headed military strategist would cause him no end of trouble during Khrushchev's de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s. Other historical personages appearing in The First Front are generals Vasilievsky, Voronov, Rokossovsky, Yeremenko and Chukov--not to mention Roosevelt, Churchill and Hitler, all depicted according to the current Soviet party line. The film's vibrant musical score was composed by no less than Aram Khatchaturian. First Front was followed in 1950 by the second part of Petrov's Stalingrad saga, The Victors and the Vanquished.