War Classics, Vol. 6 [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Chapter selections
  • Digitally enhanced audio 5.1

Synopsis

Target for Tonight
Target for Tonight is another first-rate wartime documentary drama from the prolific writer-director Harry Watt, the onetime Robert Flaherty assistant whose talents truly blossomed under the guidance of master propagandist John Grierson. This 48-minute film details the experiences of a single Royal Air Force bomber and its courageous crew, all played by actual members of the RAF. After guiding the viewer through the various ground-crew stations, strategy centers and map rooms, director Watt enters the bomber itself as the crew gears itself for another mission over Germany-one which ends almost before it begins when the plane is hit with machine-gun flack (a truly frightening sequence). Though the screenplay is obviously a composite of several missions, the film's irrefutable authenticity is stamped on every frame. Target for Tonight was not only the film that "made" Harry Watt's reputation, but it also served as the prototype for all the British WW2 "semi-documentaries" to come. ~ 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 San Pietro
The Battle of San Pietro was Hollywood filmmaker John Huston's first effort for the U.S. War Department. Scripted by British novelist Eric Ambler, the film, largely comprised of on-the-spot combat footage, concentrates on a grueling battle in the Italian stronghold of San Pietro. The Germans, making full use of the town's natural fortifications, dug in and began defending their position by slaughtering hundreds of Allied troops. The 143rd infantry regiment lost 12 of its 16 tanks in the bloody battle. Huston and Ambler concentrate on the men of the 143rd, sparing the audience nothing in showing the bodies of the victims, intercut with shots of those same unfortunates, grinning and gabbing in the hours before their deaths. The filmmakers fully intended Battle of San Pietro as an anti-war film, but the military brass, concerned that the relatives of the dead soldiers would be subject to undue agony by so uncompromising a film, demanded that the picture be recut, toning down the stench of death and emphasizing the resilience of those who survived. Even in its truncated form, The Battle of San Pietro was strong stuff for a home-front audience weaned on the optimistic propaganda dispensed by newsreels and fictional Hollywood war pictures. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The True Glory
British filmmaker Carol Reed and American playwright Garson Kanin team up to direct the war documentary The True Glory. The movie was assembled from actual footage of the WWII allied invasion of Europe, captured by thousands of different camera operators. Starting with D-Day, the documentary covers the major battles all the way to the fall of Berlin, along with personal vignettes. The prologue is read by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, with Robert Harris and Peter Ustinov providing narration. The True Glory won an Academy award for Best Documentary in 1945. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

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