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War Comes to America (1945)

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Part VII of the "Why We Fight" series of wartime documentaries. This entry attempts to describe the factors leading up to America's entry into the Second World War.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Dean Acheson ...
Himself (archive footage)
General Bergeret ...
Himself (archive footage)
A.A. Berle ...
Himself (archive footage)
Arno Breker ...
Himself (archive footage)
Neville Chamberlain ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Galeazzo Ciano ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Galleazzo Ciano)
Édouard Daladier ...
Himself (archive footage)
Charles Edison ...
Himself (archive footage)
Francisco Franco ...
Himself (archive footage)
Joseph Goebbels ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Josef Goebbels)
Hermann Göring ...
Himself (archive footage)
Rudolf Hess ...
Himself (archive footage)
Heinrich Himmler ...
Himself (archive footage)
Hirohito ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

In this final installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, the subject focuses on the United States of America. We learn of its good qualities and the things worth fighting for. With that established, we learn of the history of the United States' population shifting opinion towards siding with the Allies against the Axis until the attack on Pearl Harbour which brought America into full scale involvement in the war. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | War

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 June 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Why We Fight, 7  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The shot of an all-black church congregation is taken from The Negro Soldier (1944). See more »

Goofs

Twice there appears an animated clip showing about a dozen fully-equipped US troops in gray silhouette marching briskly left to right over a background graphic; however, a close look shows the "soldiers" actually wearing narrow-brimmed office-worker-style civilian hats rather than army helmets. See more »

Quotes

[the film explains the dire consequences for the United States of an Axis victory in Eurasia]
Narrator: German conquest of Europe and Africa would bring all their raw materials, plus their entire industrial development, under one control. Of the two billion people in the world, the Nazis would rule roughly one quarter, the 500 million people of Europe and Africa, forced into slavery to labor for Germany. German conquest of Russia would add the vast raw materials and the production facilities of another of...
See more »

Connections

Follows The Nazis Strike (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
(uncredited)
Music by Stephen Foster
Played during the child montage
See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderful
12 October 2004 | by (Lincoln England) – See all my reviews

The "Why We Fight" series is now 60 years old, but documentary film-making still doesn't come any better. I've got all 7 on DVD and although the sound quality is weak on a couple they remain the finest "propaganda" films I've ever seen. Apart from that, since being made they've now assumed another role as 'primary source' history. Wonderful snapshots on a vanished America. President Coolidge once said "The main business of the American people IS business" and i think that's why the series was made. While 'we' in Europe were squabbling and scheming and tearing ourselves apart the American people simply got on with their lives and built up a beautiful country, not to mention an economy that dwarfed the rest of the world. Most Americans had little knowledge of European affairs and we can't blame them for feeling a little p****d that just 20 years after they rescued us from a world war, we went and did it again! Of course, Hitler & the Nazis were very different to the German imperialism of WW1. They wanted the whole world and it WAS in America's interest to stop them. "War Comes To America" paints a portrait of Amrican history right from the beginning and gradually shows how all the achievements and work and struggle of the people have to be honoured by defeating this new and most terrible threat. The narrators (Walter Huston & Lloyd Nolan) both have wonderful voices and always seem to be talking directly to the viewer as an individual. A staggering amount of care went into the editing and selection of film and sound clips and it shows throughout. This is my favourite of the Why We Fight films and although the portrayal of America is sometimes a little "rose-tinted" (the Civil War is COMPLETELY left out) I found myself wishing I could've lived through that time. The comparison between the USA in the 30s and 40s and Britain today is quite striking. There's a tremendous optimism and energy and 'drive' in America that I simply don't see over here, then or now. I'm absolutely certain that if I'd watched this movie as a 19 year old GI back in the 40s I'd have left the cinema feeling 10 feet tall and ready to kick Hitler's ass! It really does show the sense of outrage of a free people attacked by barbarians, and the certainty that good will triumph over evil. In another of the series they show a clip from one of Winston Churchill's speeches that sums up the whole message of Why We Fight. Churchill's mother was American, so it's worth repeating again: "Every trace of Hitler's footsteps, every stain of his infected and corroding fingers, must be sponged and purged and if necessary BLASTED from the surface of the Earth. Lift up your hearts. All will come right." So. "War Comes To America" remains the finest documentary I've ever seen and it's a worthy end to an utterly outstanding series. As no film is 'perfect' I'll give it 9 out of 10 and I'd advise anyone to get hold of the entire series. You won't regret it.

PS - I recently discovered something that anyone familiar with this film will find quite hilarious. Several clips show Secretary of State Cordell Hull speaking. I now learn that (for whatever reason) Walt Disney based the Donald Duck character on Hull, and boy is it a striking resemblance. Very funny.


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