War Comes To America

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War Comes to America


English   Country: USA   Year: 1945

War Comes to America


Frank Capra


Dean Acheson; Winston Churchill




Part of the "Why We Fight" war documentaries. This edition chronicles the events leading up to America's entry into WWII. Black & White.


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(Average=5.00 out of 5; Total Number=1)

The Concluding Chapters Of Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" (rating=5)

The first five volumes in Frank Capra's celebrated "Why We Fight" series focused on Hitler's Nazis overrunning Europe in the first half of World War II. The final two volumes shift the focus to the Pacific Theater and those are what we have collected on this DVD. "The Battle of China: The Assault on the Great Wall" looks at the Chinese defense against Japanese aggression. Like the previous chapter, "The Battle of Russia," an important part of the intent here is to establish a sense of identification between the American people with a foreign ally. Fortunately Capra does not have to gloss over the political ideology of the Chinese the same way he did with the Communist Soviets.

This explains why "The Battle of China" provides a brief history of China and its people and then details why the Japanese wanted to conquer the country, namely getting the raw materials and slave labor necessary for taking over all of Asia. The War in the Pacific covered, showing the valiant effort by the Chinese to stop the Japanese. Also featured are General Claire Lee Chennault's famous Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group who had joined the battle to defend China. This 67-minute black&white 1944 documentary is narrated by writer Anthony Veiller (Walter Houston just does the voice of Abraham Lincoln this time) and Anatole Litvak served as an uncredited co-director. In the next volume, "War Comes to America," the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings the United States into the war.

"War Comes to America" is the seventh and final episode in the celebrated "Why We Fight Series." Anatole Litvak was the uncredited co-director of this chapter, with music by Alfred Newman, and actors Walter Huston and Lloyd Nolan provided the narration for this 67-minute black&white documentary produced in 1945 as the war was ending. This final installment celebrates the good qualities of the United States and establishes those things worth fighting for. "War Comes to America" also looks at the history of the United States and traces how the shifting opinion of the public towards supporting the Allies against the Axis forces was clearly shifting in that direction when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. As such the film presents the mood of the American people on the eve of World War II and how the isolationist position changed in reaction to the aggressive policies of the Axis powers (a.k.a. "Death, Inc.") as traced in a revealing series of Gallup Polls. There is also a summary of Japanese aggression from the invasion of Manchuria to Pearl Harbor.

This particular chapter is one of the most interesting because Capra is going out of his way to present America as an inclusive society when Hungarians, Portuguese, American Negroes and Chinamen all work together, although it is interesting that the first two are shown more often and more progressively than the latter pair. Even Germans and Italians are included in the mix, but not the Japanese, which is not surprising given the internment camps in California (which were actually called concentration amps at the time). But we do see an indictment of activities of the German American Bund as well. The perspective here is decidedly liberal, seeing the U.S.A. as a nation proud of having trade unions and capable of correcting mistakes like Prohibition. While covering December 7, 1941, the day that "will live in infamy," Capra ends with the uplifting music of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and the idea of an inevitable Allied victory.

Capra served as a major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and was commissioned by Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall to make a series of films that would explain the government's policy to the troops hastily being assembled, trained, and sent overseas. The "Why We Fight" series is the supreme example of propaganda put out by the U.S. government during World War II. Eventually the "Why We Fight" series was shown to the public in theaters. At the end of the war Capra also made a pair of films for the occupation forces, "Your Job in Germany" and "Know Your Enemy: Japan." In 2000 the "Why We Fight" series was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry and remains a prime source of archival footage for the period.