"Docudrama" about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and its results, the recovering of the ships, the improving of defense in Hawaii and the US efforts to beat back the ... See full summary »
Documentary about the 25th and last bombing mission of a B17, the "Memphis Belle". The "Memphis Belle" took part in a great bombing raid on sub-pens in Wilhelmshafen, Germany. On their way ... See full summary »
James A. Verinis
A French explorer enlists the help of the US Navy in an expedition to the South Pole. There is competition between the airship division and fixed wing fliers, resolved in triumph and ... See full summary »
This documentary movie is about the battle of San Pietro, a small village in Italy. Over 1,100 US soldiers were killed while trying to take this location, that blocked the way for the ... See full summary »
The lights go out at a high-society dinner party and one of the guests is murdered. The police are summoned and Inspector Killian shows up, with his assistant Carney. In order to get a ... See full summary »
William Collier Jr.
Documentary short film produced by the U.S. Army, intended to enlighten the American public on the final thrust of the Allied war effort in Europe and on the plans for the return home of American forces.
This famous propaganda piece, used as a U.S. Army training film in WWII before theatrical release, asks 'why we fight.' The answer compares the 'free' and 'slave' worlds. Included: development of dictatorships in Italy, Germany and Japan, while anti-militarism and isolationism rise in the USA; a look at enemy propaganda; and the first acts of aggression. Walter Huston narrates a combination of archival footage, maps, and other graphics. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Prelude to War is the first in a series of well-made propaganda films that were co-directed by Frank Capra during World War II with the intention of educating new U.S. soldiers about the war while inspiring them to fight for "what's right". Watching them at this point in time, they are fascinating as a glimpse into more or less official propagandistic stances. Of course it's to be expected that the films go to pains to dehumanize, even demonize, then enemy cultures. Because this specific material is so far removed from our current stances and concerns, it's instructive to watch and especially to show it to students, because it's much easier to see through the propaganda tactics, enabling similar tactics to more easily be identified in modern politics.
But perhaps surprisingly, Prelude to War and the other films in the series also contain a good deal of accurate factual information, so that unless you're a World War II buff, you can learn quite a bit about how the war progressed and at least one side of why it progressed (one of many necessary sides)--if you watch the series with a critical eye.
The series also contains a lot of intriguing historical footage--including films of Axis military campaigns in execution, and some of the more typical newsreel-type shots of the three Axis leaders--Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, their right-hand men and their military and civilian support systems. Just as notable now is footage of various aspects of American life that would have passed by without much thought in 1943--such as cars traveling on relatively sparse, newly built U.S. highway interchanges. You can gain as much from Prelude to War by simply watching the images and keeping in mind the historical context as you can by listening to the narration.
There are a couple rough spots--a montage of Axis armies marching like huge, well-oiled machines probably goes on too long 60-something years later, but surely the aim was to put just a bit of fear as well as an increased fervor to conquer into the new U.S. military recruits.
This film isn't crucial viewing for everyone, but for those who study history, politics, sociology, the military and especially World War II, it is essential.
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