7.0/10
1,673
19 user 2 critic

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)
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

ON DISC
ALL
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Documentary revealing the nature and process of the fight between the Soviet Union and Germany in the Second World War.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak
Stars: Anthony Veiller, Ion Antonescu, Nikolay Cherkasov
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The World War II US Government account of the European theatre of the war from after the English and French entry to the fall of France.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak
Stars: General Bergeret, Karl Brandt, Winston Churchill
Documentary | Short | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The Japanese attack on Midway in June 1942, filmed as it happened.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, Logan Ramsey
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The Official World War II US Government account of Chinese defense against Japanese aggression.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak
Stars: Claire Chennault, Kai-Shek Chiang, Madame Chiang
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The official World War II US government account of Great Britain's stand against the Nazi war machine after the Dunkirk evacuation.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anthony Veiller
Stars: Douglas Bader, Arno Breker, Winston Churchill
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A comprehensive look at the war in the Pacific during World War II. Shot as a propaganda film by acclaimed Hollywood director Frank Capra

Directors: Frank Capra, Joris Ivens
Stars: John Beal, Howard Duff, Walter Huston
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

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.

Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak
Stars: Dean Acheson, General Bergeret, A.A. Berle
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Filmmaker John Huston narrates this Oscar-nominated World War II-era film about life among the U.S. soldiers protecting Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

Director: John Huston
Stars: John Huston, Walter Huston, Milton Ashkin
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Documentary made by the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Directors: Frank Capra, Hugh Stewart, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Leo Genn, Burgess Meredith, Bernard Miles
Documentary | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Documentary focusing on the contributions to the American war effort of African-American soldiers.

Director: Stuart Heisler
Stars: Gertrude Elise Ayer, Richmond Barthé, Erich Borchmeyer
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A documentary on the 25th bombing mission of the Memphis Belle, a B-17 in the US 8th Air Force.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Stanley Wray, Robert Morgan, James A. Verinis
Thunderbolt (1947)
Documentary | Short | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A WW2 documentary on the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter/bomber pilots in missions (Operation Strangle) from their base in Corsica to Northern Italy in 1944, destroying railroads, bridges, trains, vehicles and hard targets.

Directors: John Sturges, William Wyler
Stars: James Stewart, Lloyd Bridges, Eugene Kern
Edit

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)
Edit

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 »
Edit

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 »
Edit

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

Followed by The Nazis Strike (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

The Star Spangled Banner
(1814) (uncredited)
Music by John Stafford Smith (1777)
Played often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
just hokey enough to be dated, but it never loses its forceful impact for showing why the war happened
10 January 2010 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

I usually don't watch old propaganda movies, unless it's meant for fun. The kind that they show on Mystery Science Theater before the main feature are some of those. But Frank Capra had an entire series of films in the second world war educating an American public, whether they knew it or not, about the reasons and and the current fighting conditions, of World War II. Granted, these were made more-so for the US Army as a training film, and in this particular case we get the not-so-subtle look at "Free" vs "Slave" states, the latter being those in Germany and Japan. Did you know, for example, that the Nazis make their schoolchildren pledge allegiance to Hitler every day before school starts and that the Japanese have an unyielding allegiance to their Emperor? It's that kind of movie.

But there is more than I expected here, which is what is so fascinating and satisfying. Capra is a real filmmaker, he's not just some gun for hire that the Army would get to make something fast and message heavy without any artistic merit. So even when Capra's imagery and tactics of narrative devices beat the drum over the head- perhaps for good reason as it was, again, for the US Army- is really does drive the points home as solid propaganda. And, sometimes, as some decent history too about how Germany and Japan got to where they were in the lead-up into the war. On top of this is Capra's skill in combining documentary footage of Nazis and "the Japs" with various maps showing what the axis powers would do with their far-reaching goals in taking over the road (like an oil-slick it goes over the map), and there's even some really creative animation used. Plus, of course, some actual interviews and footage of politicians.

Overall, while not subtle in the slightest, Prelude to War is a fine piece of film-making that achieves its principle goal: get the soldiers (or the audience in general) riled up about what has happened up until this point in time, and, of course, to 'know-your-enemy' as it were. It's no less an artistic achievement really than anything else Capra was doing in the 1940's.


10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 19 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed