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Color WWII: Award Winning Films [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Bonus features: Private SNAFU

Synopsis

6th Marine Division on Okinawa
This video is footage from the 1945 battle of the 5th Marine Division on Okinawa against the Japanese. ~ Tana Hobart, Rovi

Fighting Lady
One of three morale-boosting government documentaries directed by Lieutenant Colonel William Wyler (the others were The Memphis Belle and Thunderbolt), The Fighting Lady follows the exploits of an aircraft carrier, its crew, and the planes transported on its deck. The officers and enlistees are not required to perform; that function is handled by a professional narrator. Much of the combat footage resurfaced in the postwar era to bolster many a low-budget aviation picture. As an added advantage, The Fighting Lady was photographed in full color by Edward Steichen, meaning that the stock footage would come in handy on TV from the 1960s onward. The Fighting Lady is frequently released on videocassette in tandem with one or both of William Wyler's other government-sponsored films. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Last Bomb
Examination of the B-29 campaign that finally defeated Japan. ~ Nickie ?, Rovi

Task Force
In pageant-like fashion, Warner Bros.' Task Force traces the history of the American aircraft carrier, as experienced by a group of naval air aces. Gary Cooper plays Admiral Jonathan L. Scott, who on the verge of retirement remembers his struggle to win recognition of the importance of aircraft carriers. The story begins in 1921, when Scott and his friend Pete Richard (Walter Brennan) were making dangerous landings on the primitive 65-foot carrier Langley. Scott's outspokenness wins him few friends among the brass, and after he publicly insults a Japanese diplomat on the subject of his beloved carriers, he is shunted away to a desk job. Naturally, once Pearl Harbor is attacked, Scott is vindicated. While his wife Mary (Jane Wyatt) waits patiently at home, Scott serves in World War II with distinction, guiding his carrier through a maze of Japanese artillery and kamikazes. Filmed in Technicolor, Task Force makes good use of actual color battle footage filmed by the Signal Corps. A brief clip from Task Force shows up in the drive-in movie scene in James Cagney's White Heat (1949). ~ 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

The Battle of Midway
Highlights from World War II are documented in this award-winning film. ~ Nickie ?, 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

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

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