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War comes to America by Capra, Frank

As the last chapter in the series and made on the eve of D-day, War Comes To America is a patriotic statement designed to eliminate any possibility of U S reluctance to invade Nazi Europe. It celebrates the good qualities of the United States and establishes those things worth fighting for. All Americans declare, "Let our freedoms be endangered and we will fight." Ending with Pearl Harbour and Roosevelt's historic declaration of war, this film asserts that the US was the symbol of the free world and the only means to stop the Nazis in 1944.

About the series
The "Why we fight series" is considered the most powerful American propaganda ever produced and was the winner of an Academy Award in 1942 for Best Documentary. This outstanding and historic series features the talents of directors including Frank Capra, John Huston, and John Ford, featuring extensive historic footage from both allied and axis sources. 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.

Social interest
The series was shown to the public in theatres to explain American ideals, the government's policy and the war effort abroad. The film opens with children pledging allegiance to the flag, surveys the militant and idealistic history of the United States before embarking on a catalogue listings of states and nationalities that would make Walt Whitman proud. After this extended, self-admiring prologue the film starts with the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, continues with Nazi hostility in the late thirties and progressively arguments the US involvement in the overseas war effort.

Historic Interest
"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.").

Political interest
The last three films in the series, including WAR COMES TO AMERICA, concentrate a lot more on the virtues of their allied subject than on the atrocities of the axis foes. It may have been that the tide of war was turning noticeably in the Allies' favour by 1944-5, and demonizing the Axis enemies was no longer a priority. 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.

Credits
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.

  • Produced by: Frank Capra
  • Directed by: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak
  • Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein
  • Narrated by: Walter Huston
  • Music by: Dimitri Tiomkin
  • Edited by: William Hornbeck
  • li>IMDb profile
  • Director
    Capra, Frank
    Copyright Holder
    DocsOnline
    Duration
    67 min.
    Year of release
    1944
    Language
    English

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