The 1943 Combat Documentary
"Memphis Belle" & "Prelude to War" on DVD$19.95 plus $2 media shipping or $4 Priority. Both DVDs come in an attractive case called "Memories of War". The cover of the Memphis Belle DVD is signed by the WWII pilot of the Belle, Col. Robert Morgan.
The 1943 combat documentary "Memphis Belle" was filmed in real combat by William Wyler, a famous Hollywood director sent to the European theater to make a training film. Filmed in color, The Memphis Belle has long been held up as a "model" wartime documentary. In a terse, exciting 43 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. Hollywood director William Wyler flew five combat missions on the Belle to get the footage. He also gave out 200 cameras to other B-17 crews & asked them to film when they werent firing their guns. Though both the crewman and the filmmakers take consierable pride in the fact that the Belle has completed 25 successful missions, theres 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 thats all. The danger facing the B-17s is underlined, but never overemphasized by brief glimpses of those doomed ships that didnt make it back. The overall excellence of the Memphis Belle is even more obvious when compared to the fictionalized 1990 Hollywood version of the Belles 25th mission.
"Prelude to War"
Was the first entry in the U.S. War Depts "Why We Fight" series, a group of seven morale-boosting documentaries supervised by Lt. Col. FrankCapra. As brilliantly assembled as any of Capras "populist" Hollywood films, Prelude demonstrates how the diplomats & political blunders made in the wake of WWI led inexorably to WWII. 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 & Germany slowly and methodically build their armies and launch their plans for global conquest. Throughout the film, the lies of fascism and totalitarianism are contrasted with the ideals of Democracy. Unlike most War Dept. documentaries, Why We Fight 53 minutes and the Memphis Belle were shown to military & civilian audiences.
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