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Prelude to War
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Prelude to War (1942) More at IMDbPro »

Prelude to War -- The official World War II US Government film statement defining the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought.


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Release Date:
27 May 1942 (USA) See more »
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The official World War II US Government film statement defining the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Won Oscar. Another 3 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Jingoistic and propaganda documentary co-realized by Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak See more (15 total) »


Victor Bulwer-Lytton ... Himself (archive footage) (as Lord Lytton)
Kai-Shek Chiang ... Himself (archive footage) (as General Chaing Kai-Shek)
Walter Darré ... Himself (archive footage) (as Darré)
Otto Dietrich ... Himself (archive footage) (as Dietrich)
Hans Frank ... Himself (archive footage) (as Frank)
Joseph Goebbels ... Himself (archive footage) (as Doctor Goebbels)
Hermann Göring ... Himself (archive footage) (as Goring)
Rudolf Hess ... Himself (archive footage) (as Hess)

Adolf Hitler ... Himself (archive footage) (as Hitler)
Saburo Kurusu ... Himself (archive footage) (as Kurusu)
Robert Ley ... Himself (archive footage) (as Ley)
Yosuke Matsuoka ... Himself (archive footage)
Frank McCoy ... Himself (archive footage)
Benito Mussolini ... Himself (archive footage)
Henry Pu-yi ... Himself (archive footage)
Fritz Reinhardt ... Himself (archive footage) (as Reinhardt)
Alfred Rosenberg ... Himself (archive footage) (as Doctor Alfred Rosenberg)
Haile Selassie ... Himself (archive footage) (as Emperor Haile Selassie)
Henry L. Stimson ... Himself (archive footage)
Julius Streicher ... Himself (archive footage)
Fritz Todt ... Himself (archive footage) (as Todt)
Isoroku Yamamoto ... Himself (archive footage) (as Admiral Yamamoto)
Robert J. Anderson ... Boy Donating Money for Japanese Children (uncredited)
Pietro Badoglio ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
Aristide Briand ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Galeazzo Ciano ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Heinrich Himmler ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Hirohito ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Herbert Hoover ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Walter Huston ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Frank B. Kellogg ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Pierre Laval ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Erich Ludendorff ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Franklin D. Roosevelt ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Max Schmeling ... German Paratrooper (archive footage) (uncredited)
Mamoru Shigemitsu ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
Paul von Hindenburg ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
August von Mackensen ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Joachim von Ribbentrop ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Wendell Willkie ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited) (unconfirmed)

Directed by
Frank Capra (uncredited)
Anatole Litvak (uncredited)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Julius J. Epstein  uncredited
Philip G. Epstein  uncredited
Robert Heller  uncredited
Williband Hentschel  article (uncredited)
Adolf Hitler  book "Mein Kampf" (uncredited)
Eric Knight  uncredited
Anthony Veiller  uncredited

Produced by
Frank Capra .... producer (uncredited)
Anatole Litvak .... associate producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Hugo Friedhofer (uncredited)
Leigh Harline (uncredited)
Arthur Lange (uncredited)
Cyril J. Mockridge (uncredited)
Alfred Newman (uncredited)
David Raksin (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Robert J. Flaherty (uncredited)
Film Editing by
William Hornbeck (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Michael R. McAdam .... assistant film editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Charles Bradshaw .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Maurice De Packh .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Arthur Morton .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Alfred Newman .... musical director (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Conrad Salinger .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Herbert W. Spencer .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Jack Virgil .... orchestrator (uncredited)

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Why We Fight, 1" - USA (series title)
See more »
52 min (copyright length)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

In the year 2000, the United States Library of Congress mandated that this film (and the other six documentaries in the 'Why We Fight' series)were "culturally significant" and selected them for preservation in the National Film Registry.See more »
Movie Connections:
It Came Upon a Midnight ClearSee more »


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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
Jingoistic and propaganda documentary co-realized by Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak, 2 June 2010
Author: ma-cortes

¨Why we fight ? ¨ , results to be a series of seven information films Special Service Division Information Film , produced by the War department , SOS , with cooperation of research Council Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . This film the first of a series has been prepared by the War Department to acquaint members of the Army with factual information as to the causes , the events , leading up to our entry into the War and the principles for which we are fighting.

E. G. Marshall chief of staff tells : ¨A knowledge of these facts in an indispensable part of military training and merits the thoughtful consideration of every American soldier ¨ . ¨We are determined that before the sun set on this terrible struggles , our flags will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand , an overwhelming power on the other ; no compromise is possible and the victory of the democracies can only be complete with the latter defeat of the war machines of Germany and Japan¨. And Vice-President Henry Wallace says : ¨This is a fight between a free world and slave World ¨.

Meanwhile in Germany, Italy and Germany is prohibited the reunion , public assembly of more than five persons is strictly forbidden, violators will be prosecuted ; only the application of brutal force used continuously and ruthlessly can bring about the decision in favor of the side it supports : ¨Mein Kampf¨ . As foes of Putch slain in Munich, the ex-premier crushed Hitler's attempt to seize power in 1923 ; in Italy Giacomo Matteotti socialist leader murdered to silence him and slain by Italian Fascisti ; in Japan General Watanabe and Viscount Saito are assassinated by Tokyo clique and Japanese statesman murdered in bed by rebel force of Army officers, plus Inspector General of Military Education slain by group of young rebels and Inoyuye Minister of Finance is also slain . Furthermore in Germany Roehm assassinated in Nazi purge with hundreds dead . Hitler attempts the Christian cross is to be removed from all churches and cathedrals and is to be replaced by the immortal symbol of Germany, the swastika. Berlin , 1935, 700.000 members of the Protestant youth organizations were forced to disband , Nazis storm cardinal Faulhaber's palace and bricks and clubs are hurled at windows . Pastor Niemoller is sent to prison camp and other Pastors are imprisoned in homes ; Nazis jail priests , friars and nuns , arrest follows search and rampage of convents and monasteries. Nazis vent rage on Jews , riots all over Germany, mobs kill , loot and burn . The fascism , Imperialism and Nazism have their own slogans as Hitler says : ¨I want to see again in the eyes of youth the gleam of the beats of prey ¨ ; as Japanese Army slogan : ¨To die emperor is to live forever ¨; as Mussolini : ¨Three cheers for war , noble and beautiful above all ¨ .

The film terminates with a patriotic words : ¨Victory of the democracies can only be completed with utter defeat of the war machines of Germany , Italy and Japan ¨. The story is interestingly written by Philip and Julius Epstein , Casablanca's writers . This documentary-propaganda is well directed by Frank Capra and by Anatole Litvak , though uncredited .

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