This is one of the films deemed "subversive" by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in October 1947, at the height of the "Red Scare" era typified by the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The committee decided that, even though Russia was our ally against Nazi Germany in World War II--when this film was made--the movie's sympathetic portrayal of Russian peasants and guerrillas who were fighting off Nazi forces was an "endorsement" of Communism. Senator McCarthy wasn't elected until 1948.
In the severely re-edited, re-titled re-release, all references to the Russian nationality of the participants in the original story was either eliminated or obscured.
Original on-screen end credits erroneously reverse the roles of Robert Lowery and Gene O'Donnell. Actually, Lowery played the pilot and O'Donnell played the gunner.
Some television broadcasts of the film list the title as "Armored Attack". During the opening credits for that version, there is a special listing that states it is "An adaptation of the film, The North Star". Interestingly, the film is listed as NORTH STAR in published, online and onscreen program guides.
The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Anne Baxter, Walter Huston, Dean Jagger and Walter Brennan; and two Oscar nominees: Erich von Stroheim and Ann Harding.
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
The earliest documented telecast of this film occurred Monday 7 January 1946 on New York City's pioneer television station WNBT (Channel 1). This would have been the original, uncut, unmutilated version that was soon to be locked up by the House Committee on Unamerican Activities (HUAC), and not resurrected in its entirety until many decades later.
"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 3, 1944 with Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Jane Withers and Farley Granger reprising their film roles.
The film's four leads, Anne Baxter, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan and Dana Andrews, also starred in Swamp Water (1941).
The first of four collaborations between star Dana Andrews and director Lewis Milestone. The others are The Purple Heart (1944), A Walk in the Sun (1945) and No Minor Vices (1948)