Based on the real events, American Traitor The Trial of Axis Sally centers around the famous trial of Mildred Elizabeth Gillars, also known as Axis Sally. She was charged with treason for assisting Hitler’s Nazi regime, in promoting their propaganda and weakening America’s spirit in the war. Mildred voiced a radio broadcast that called out to US soldiers and poisoned their minds with doubt, thereby, shaking their patriotism.
Who was Axis Sally?
Axis Sally was a character that Mildred Gillars portrayed on the famous broadcast show. Originally, Mildred wanted to be an actress and also went to a drama school to learn the basics. However, due to lack of attention, she ended up being a chorus girl, and therefore in order to support her life, she moved to Berlin in 1933, where she taught English.
Her lover and admirer, Max Otto Koischwitz employed her at Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG) where her voice and charm were used by the head of the Nazi propaganda machine, Dr. Joseph Goebbels.
Joseph threatened to kill her if she didn’t comply with Fuehrer’s wish and thus she was compelled to promote Nazi propaganda.
Is it a True Story?
The film is a dramatized version of the real-life events witnessing the trial of Axis Sally a.k.a Mildred Gillars. It follows the famous 1949 U.S Federal Court Case where she was charged for treason and a death sentence was demanded by the appellant. A more detailed version of the narrative is available in William E. Owen’s novel, upon which the film is based.
The more authentic and legal details could be grasped from the case, “Gillars Vs. United States.”
Was Attorney James Laughlin bribed?
The last scene shows James Laughlin interacting with two suited men. Their identity wasn’t revealed but their persona hinted at them as possible FBI agents. The intelligence agency bribed James to lose the case, but Mildred’s story changed his mind. In fact, he fought for her cause, which wasn’t expected of him.
However, at the end of, trial, Mildred Gillars still gets convicted for 30 years in prison, which was a balanced way out for both parties.
What was Jury’s decision?
Mildred Gillars was charged with 8 counts in total. The jury found her not guilty in 7 out of 8 counts but she was found guilty for the last one. The 8th count summarised her involvement in the German Propaganda broadcast of the radio play, Vision of Invasion.
Ironically, it was a play where she enacted a character. And the judgment connects to James Laughlin’s long speech, where an audience and court fails to differentiate between an artist and the art. The jury saw her act as authentic, which made her the impeccable actress she wanted to be but also landed a 30 years sentence to her name. It is the price of being a realistic artist, one has to pay.
A credit sequence portrays Billy Owen, the lawyer who served as James Laughlin’s apprentice during Mildred’s trial. He was the only visually documented person who talked about the legacy and humane nature of James Laughlin.
While working for the government, James never left his consciousness. He helped the innocent victims who were labeled as traitors by the government without much investigation. He tried his best to save as many souls as he could. He might have worked for the government, but his soul was still human.
Read More – ‘American Traitor’ Summary & Analysis
American Traitor The Trial of Axis Sally is a legal drama film that follows the post-war trial of famous radio broadcaster Axis Sally, who worked for Nazi Germany. The film is directed by Michael Polish.