Good Fight, The (1984)

Good Fight, The (1984)

“There was this enormous feeling of wanting to come to grips, and not being able to.”

Veterans of an American Communist militia fighting on behalf of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War reflect back on their experiences and motivations for joining this cause.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Documentary
  • Soldiers
  • Spanish Civil War
  • Veterans

I’ll admit to knowing very little about the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) prior to watching this illuminating documentary, other than the fact that Hemingway was a vocal ally of the cause and wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls about this period of history. Thankfully, back in the early 1980s, filmmakers Noel Buckner, Mary Dore, and Sam Sills decided to fill in America’s collective knowledge gap with this much-needed overview of what led to the Spanish Civil War, why a significant number (~45,000) of Americans decided to voluntarily join, what it was like for them to fight on behalf of a nation other than their own, and how the entire affair was perceived back in the U.S.

This is all highly complex — made even more so given that the American militia members (men and women, black and white) were overtly joining forces with the USSR and the Mexican Communist Party, an association which led to ostracization and blackballing once they returned back to an increasingly anti-Communist mid-century America. As the film clearly shows, their experiences in Spain were harrowing: they were underfunded, underfed, under-armed, and unexperienced, yet stayed with their cause at any cost, demonstrating the power of convictions and a desire to make a difference in the world. Listening to this feisty group of marginalized Americans discuss their willingness to sacrifice their lives to fight global fascism makes for fascinating viewing.

Note: This film was originally much more ambitious in scope, at ~6 hours long. It ended up focusing exclusively on the American militia in its ultimate 98 minute running time, but it is made clear that this truly was an international effort of militias from many nations joining the cause.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Many invaluable historical and present-day clips about the American militia’s involvement in Spain

Must See?
Yes, as a powerful historical document.


  • Historically Relevant


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