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Prelude to War (1942)

Not Rated | | Documentary, War | 27 May 1942 (USA)
The official World War II US Government film statement defining the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought.

Directors:

Frank Capra (uncredited), Anatole Litvak (uncredited)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Victor Bulwer-Lytton Victor Bulwer-Lytton ... Himself (archive footage) (as Lord Lytton)
Kai-Shek Chiang Kai-Shek Chiang ... Himself (archive footage) (as General Chaing Kai-Shek)
Walter Darré Walter Darré ... Himself (archive footage) (as Darré)
Otto Dietrich Otto Dietrich ... Himself (archive footage) (as Dietrich)
Hans Frank 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 Saburo Kurusu ... Himself (archive footage) (as Kurusu)
Robert Ley Robert Ley ... Himself (archive footage) (as Ley)
Yosuke Matsuoka Yosuke Matsuoka ... Himself (archive footage)
Frank McCoy Frank McCoy ... Himself (archive footage)
Benito Mussolini ... Himself (archive footage)
Puyi Puyi ... Himself (archive footage) (as Henry Pu-yi)
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Your boy wants you to see it!

Genres:

Documentary | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

27 May 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Why We Fight, 1 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the book-burning scene, the books shown on-screen (suggesting they would be banned in Nazi Germany) are the collected works ("gesammelte werke") of poet Heinrich Heine, "Martin Eden" by Jack London, "All Quiet on the Western Front" ("Im Westen nichts Neues") by Erich Maria Remarque, "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway, "The Magic Mountain" ("Der Zauberberg") by Thomas Mann, the operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld" by composer Jacques Offenbach, and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's "Songs Without Words" ("Lieder ohne Worte"). See more »

Goofs

During the (silent) footage of Ethiopians shouting, the angry voices are actually shouting in Kiswahili: "Kwenda!" ("go:), etc. The principal language of Ethiopia is Amharic. Kiswahili (commonly known as "Swahili") is the main language of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: [Last line] For this is what we are fighting: Freedom's oldest enemy, the passion of the few to rule the many. This isn't just a war. This is the common man's life and death struggle against those who would put him back into slavery. We lose it, and we lose everything. Our homes; the jobs we want to go back to; the books we read; the very food we eat. The hopes we have for our kids; the kids themselves. They won't be ours anymore. That's what's at stake. It's us or them! The chips are down. Two ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Film Breaks: Frank Capra (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Caisson Song
(1907) (uncredited)
(also called "The Caissons Go Rolling Along")
Music and Lyrics by Edmund L. Gruber
Played by a marching band in the first scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
I enjoyed it
24 April 2000 | by a35362See all my reviews

I found this short film fascinating. It very clearly lays out to the "common man" the argument in favor of getting involved in WW II. Yes, the animation is crude by today's standards and the voice-over is melodramatic, but considering most people of fifty-odd years ago never got anywhere near a college campus and their lives stopped at the city limits of their hometowns, this film does a good job of spelling out what was going on around the world and what was at stake. The earnestness with which it is presented may be seen as campy today, but just imagine what it must have been like, trying to understand it all and trying to guess what it would mean to you and your family.


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