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25 War Classics [2 Discs] [DVD]

  • SKU: 18555553
  • Release Date: 07/06/2010
  • Rating: PG
  • 2.0 (1)
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Overview

Ratings & Reviews

Overall Customer Rating:
2.0

Synopsis

Payoff in the Pacific
The documentary chronicles the battles that followed the Japanese defeats at New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and the Central Pacific. Particular attention is paid to MacArthur's return to the Philippines, thus fulfilling his famous promise to return in triumph to the scene of his greatest humiliation. ~ Rob Ferrier, Rovi

The Stilwell Road
This World War II documentary, narrated by actor (and future U.S. President) Ronald Reagan, focuses on the China-India-Burma front of the war. The Stillwell Road (named after American General Joseph Stillwell, whose idea it was) was an engineering marvel whose purpose was to truck supplies to the Chinese army fighting the Japanese in China. It started in India, cut through the almost impenetrable jungles and mountains of Burma, and ended in China. ~ Brian Gusse, Rovi

With the Marines at Tarawa
This documentary offers a profile of two of the Marine Corps' bloodiest battles. Perhaps the better known of the two, Tarawa, has come to symbolize the savage island fighting that characterized the war in the Pacific. Fought within an area the size of the Pentagon, three days of fighting claimed almost 10,000 lives. The second part deals with the return of the Marine Corps to their base on Guam. Seized early in the war, the island of Guam had a close relationship with the United States, and its loss was one that hurt deeply. ~ Rob Ferrier, Rovi

The Memphis Belle
Filmed in color, The Memphis Belle has long been held up as a "model" wartime documentary. In a terse, exciting 41 minutes, the film assembles footage from several allied bombing missions into one single representative flight of the famed Flying Fortress known as The Memphis Belle. Though both the crewmen and the filmmakers take considerable pride in the fact that the Belle has completed 25 successful missions, there's no phony heroism, no grandstanding, no flagwaving. As calm-voiced narrator Ed Kern explains, the Belle has a job to do, and it does it, and that's all. The danger facing these Flying Fortresses is underlined, but never overemphasized, by brief glimpses of those doomed ships that didn't make it back. Memphis Belle was directed by William Wyler, who also flew several missions with the crew, manning the camera himself at considerable risk. The overall excellence of The Memphis Belle is even more obvious when compared to the hokey fictionalized 1990 movie version of the Belle's 25th mission. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Prelude to War
Prelude to War was the first entry in the US War Department's Why We Fight series, a group of seven morale-boosing documentaries supervised by Lt. Col. Frank Capra. As brilliantly assembled as any of Capra's "populist" Hollywood films, Prelude demonstrates how the diplomatic and political blunders made in the wake of WW1 led inexorably to WW2. Especially culpable are those complacent citizens of the USA who were led to believe that the problems of the rest of the world had no bearing on their lives. While America sleeps, Japan and Germany slowly and methodically build their armies and launch their plans for global conquest. Throughout the film, the lies of fascisim and totalitarinism are contrasted with the ideals of Democracy. Unlike most other War Department efforts, the 53-minute Why We Fight was shown to both civilian and military audiences. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Attack in the Pacific
Attack in the Pacific is a historical documentary which captures footage of American and Japanese troops during World War II, detailing the fighting that occurred and the conditions that each country's troops endured. Events captured on film include the Cairo Conference, with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in attendance, and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's now-legendary speech following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. ~ Tom Ciampoli, Rovi

The Secret Life of Adolf Hitler
Westbrook van Voorhis compiles these interviews (including with Eva Braun and Hitler's sister) and films to create a look at the man behind the horrific vision which created the devastation of WWII. ~ Nickie ?, Rovi

Go for Broke!
After Mein Kampf
In this shallow combination of documentary and fiction, shocking footage of concentration camp survivors, dead bodies, Hitler's rantings, German soldiers enthusiastically singing patriotic songs, and similar scenes of World War II are mixed with enacted film clips, such as a German soldier raping a woman -- or worse. Even before the director asks the clearly spurious question of whether or not Hitler is really dead, many viewers might feel offended by the way in which the emphasis on bestiality and other crimes seems to take precedence over an honest or insightful approach to the inhumanity of the Nazi regime. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

Submarine Warfare
In this documentary film, Submarine Warfare, host Gene Kelly guides the viewer through life on board a World War II fighting submarine. Serving the country underwater offered unique challenges, both personal and mechanical, and the expertise of these men in their "sardine cans" was an important factor in the outcome of the war. War footage includes a hunt for enemy subs in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the ferocious battle for New Britain. ~ Alice Day, Rovi

The Nazis Strike
The Nazi Strike was the second of Col. Frank Capra's government-ordained "Why We Fight" series. This hard-hitting documentary artfully assembles existing stock footage to trace the rise of Adolf Hitler and his thirst for world conquest. Virtually wresting the German government from more moderate politicos, Hitler installs a dictatorship. Having subjugated the Jewish citizens in his own country, Der Fuhrer moves onto the Rhineland and Austria, and demands the annexation of Czechoslovakia. Despite his assurances of "peace in our time," Hitler marches into Poland. World War II is the undesirable but inevitable end result. Like all the "Why We Fight" films, The Nazi Strike was designed to clarify the meaning and importance of the war effort to the average GI. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Battle of China
Battle of China was number six in the Why We Fight series, a group of government-sponsored documentaries aimed at explaining World War II to the American home front. The film describes the rape of China at the hands of the Japanese warlords. Once China is enslaved, Japan uses the captured land and its facilities to overwhelm the rest of Asia. Included are scenes of wartime atrocities--some filmed by the Japanese as proof of their invincibility. Frank Capra directed Battle of China, as he did all seven of the Why We Fight films. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gung Ho!
Accepted in 1943 as standard wartime propaganda, Gung Ho can be seen today as an outrageous exercise in raging machismo. Randolph Scott plays Thorwald, a marine colonel assigned to assemble a crack squadron of fearless jungle fighters for the all-important raid on Japanese-held Makim Island (which in real life was recaptured only a few weeks before the film's release). Thorwald seems determine to select the dregs of the earth for this mission: most of his squadron is comprised of misfits, barroom brawlers, borderline psychos and outright murderers. It is suggested that these sociopaths are the only men truly qualified for the mission at hand, and by film's end the squadron members-living and dead-are lauded as true-blue patriots. Once one gets past the questionable premise, Gung Ho is a fairly exciting WWII melodrama, with a particularly thrilling climax. The film is currently available in its original form and in a computer-colorized version. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Thunderbolt
Filmed in Technicolor, Thunderbolt was the last of Major William Wyler's wartime directorial efforts on behalf of the US Army Air Corps. As in his previous WW2 documentaries, Wyler himself participated in the mission that he depicts herein on film. The title refers to the huge bombers used by the Corsica-based 57th fighter group. The film concentrates on "Operation Strangle", the all-out assault agains t the Nazi stronghold at Monte Cassino. Adding poignancy to the film is the knowledge that several of the extremely young American participants, here shown smiling and waving at the camera, did not survive the battle. Released to the troops in 1945, Thunderbolt was distributed theatrically in 1947. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Report from the Aleutians
The semi-feature-length wartime documentary Report From the Aleutians was written and directed by Captain John Huston. It was one of three such films turned out between 1942 and 1945 while Huston was assigned to the Signal Corps. In detailing the day-to-day activities of protecting Alaska's Aleutian Islands from Japanese attack, Huston concentrates on the personal element, stressing the courage under stress of the regular Joes assigned to this bleak part of the world. Huston himself narrates the film with the emphatic compassion that he would later bring to his acting work. Report From the Aleutians was nominated for an Academy Award in 1943. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Le Passage du Rhin
In this WW II drama, two French soldiers are captured and forced to work as farm hands on a German family's land. One of the soldiers tricks the farmer's innocent daughter into helping him escape. The other soldier has truly fallen for the girl and decides to stay. At the war's end, the escaped POW becomes a successful journalist and the other has gone back to his original wife whom he despises. Later the husband leaves his family and returns to the girl, while the journalist returns to his former mistress who risked it all to save him from being arrested. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

December 7th
Produced on behalf of the U.S. government, December 7th is just as slick and professional as any of director John Ford's "civilian" films. With the not inconsiderable contribution of cinematographer Gregg Toland, Ford literally recreates the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, and even manages to build up suspense by filming several scenes of the unsuspecting military personnel at work, play, and worship. So convincing were many of the attack scenes that they have since been excerpted in several documentaries, leading the more impressionable viewers to ponder why the film's cameramen were foresighted enough to have set up their equipment at the precise moment of the bombing! As originally intended, the film, narrated by Walter Huston, was a stern criticism of America's lack of preparedness at Pearl Harbor (the entire fleet were lined up like sitting ducks). The government didn't like this aspect of December 7th and ordered it removed; still, the remaining 34-minute docudrama (pared down from feature length) ended up winning an Academy Award. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Desert Victory
If, while watching such cable services as A&E and the History Channel, you happen to see filmclips of the WWII African campaign against Germany's Erwin Rommel, chances are good that the footage was culled from Desert Victory. This Academy Award-winning British documentary traces the struggle between the opposing forces of generals Rommel and Montgomery, from the defeat at El Alemein to the ultimate British victory at Tripoli. The film made quite an impact upon its first release due to its heavy reliance on captured German newsreel footage. The man responsible for Desert Victory was David MacDonald, who gave up a lucrative commercial career for the duration to concentrate on factual films. MacDonald followed Desert Victory with the equally well-received Burma Victory (1945). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Special Forces
Hell in Normandy is a mosaic of stock footage, haphazardly staged action sequences and subpar English-language dubbing. The film is set during World War II in the days just prior to the D-Day invasion. A special parachute unit is sent out to destroy a German flame thrower installation on Omaha Beach. Heading the operation are Peter Lee Lawrence and TV's onetime "Wild Bill Hickok", Guy Madison. The color photography in Hell in Normandy elevates its entertainment value ever so slightly. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Attack! The Battle for New Britain
Subtitled The Battle for New Britain, this 56-minute documentary was assembled by the Office of War Information. Lensed in the Southwest Pacific, the film deals with the efforts to recapture the island of New Britain from the Japanese. After a grueling training period (shown in unsparing detail), the Allied forces launch their three-pronged assault of the island. Despite heavy losses, the victory goes to the Americans and British. Released domestically by RKO Radio, Attack! was released in conjunction with the O.W.I's fifth war loan drive. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Great Battle of the Volga
While this film of one of the epic struggles of WWII is over 50 years old, it still delivers the drama of the battle fought by Russian soldiers and sailors to defend Leningrad. Codenamed "Operation Barbarrosa" by Hitler, the battle was truly horrific. This documentary, The Great Battle of the Volga, focuses on the bravery and suffering of the Russian soldiers as they endure the tremendous attack by the well-equipped German army. That they could regroup and fight back with such ferocity is depicted, along with the terrible destruction caused by the Germans. ~ Alice Day, Rovi

The Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain was the fourth of the US government's Why We Fight documentaries. The film uses newsreel footage and a few re-created scenes to illustrate the courage of the British people under the bombardment of Hitler's Luftwaffe. Much is made of the fact that Britain stood alone in 1940 when it was besieged by bombs, and that the little island was virtually the only Nazi target that refused to capitulate. The film concludes with scenes of the Royal Air Force preparing to pay Hitler back. Like the rest of the Why We Fight series, Battle of Britain was directed (or rather, assembled) by Frank Capra. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Appointment in Tokyo
This inspiring 54-minute WWII documentary covers the entire American Pacific campaign from the Bataan retreat to the surrender of Japan. Many of the film's more unforgettable scenes, notably the rape of Manila, have been culled from captured Japanese newsreels. The "star" of the proceedings is General Douglas MacArthur, who after three years of relentless fighting makes good his promise "I shall return." Only occasionally does the film falter by lapsing into phony sentimentality. Appointment in Tokyo was assembled by the Army Pictorial Service of the US Signal Corps, and released domestically by Warner Bros. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Overall Customer Rating

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