DOCUMENTARIES


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: PRELUDE TO WAR  52 Mins.


Director: Frank Capra

Cast: Victor Bulwer-Lytton, General Chaing Kai-Shek), Walter Darré, Otto Dietrich, Hans Frank, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler, Saburo Kurusu, Robert Ley, Yosuke Matsuoka, Frank McCoy, Benito Mussolini, Henry Pu-yi, et al.


IMDb Storyline: “This famous propaganda piece, used as a U.S. Army training film in WWII before theatrical release, asks 'why we fight.' The answer compares the 'free' and 'slave' worlds. Included: development of dictatorships in Italy, Germany and Japan, while anti-militarism and isolationism rise in the USA; a look at enemy propaganda; and the first acts of aggression. Walter Huston narrates a combination of archival footage, maps, and other graphics.”  IMDb Review: “This film is a great opening to the entire series convincing and American public why they are entering WW II. This film shows the viewer much more about American ideals right after the events of Dec 7th 1942. Some of the language is a little hard to handle and the overt nature makes the viewer laugh more than once, its great to look at old training videos as the try and instill a sense of pride in America and hate over the enemy. Recommended viewing for anyone looking into WW II propaganda, also used as a good counter argument to Triumph of the Will.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE NAZIS STRIKE  41 Mins.

Directors:  Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak

Cast: Eduard Benes, Neville Chamberlain, Clementine Churchill, Winston Churchill, Galeazzo Ciano, Édouard Daladier, Léon Degrelle, Anthony Eden, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Konrad Henlein, Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler, Walter Huston, et al.


IMDb Storyline: “In this installment of the Why We Fight propaganda film series, we see the events of Nazi Germany's diplomatic and military acts of international aggression. One by one, we learn of the Nazi's consistently underhanded and relenting violation of every promise of peace and exploitation of their foes's attempts of appeasement until the invasion of Poland September of 1939 which led to Britain and France finally taking an armed stand against Hitler.”  


IMDb Review: “The second of the Why We Fight Series concentrates on Hitler's grab of the Sudetanland and beyond as he makes a chump out of Neville Chamberlain and embarks on his conquest of Europe. Clearly meant as propaganda in its day this series over the test of time has become an informative documentary as well with most of the "Allied bias" turning out to be historical fact. The Fuhrer hoists himself on his own petard with smug pronouncements before his people and the world as he says one thing and does another as his army moves East. The Czechs and Austrians quickly capitulate but the Poles put up an heroic struggle against overwhelming odds. The disparity between Hitler's military might and Chamberlain waving the Munich treaty like a white flag, declaring "Peace in our time" to this day has durable propaganda qualities. Here in its original context it resonates even more powerfully as the darkness of World War ll sets in on Europe leaving the American viewer with two options, freedom or slavery. In 1943 there was no evading this simple truth and The Nazis Strike makes its point effectively.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  DIVIDE AND CONQUER   57 Mins.


Directors: Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak

Cast:  General Bergeret, Karl Brandt, Winston Churchill, Warren J. Clear, Walter Darré, Charles de Gaulle, Otto Dietrich, John Dillinger, Ferdinand Foch, Hans Frank, Henri Giraud, Joseph Goebbels, Rudolf Hess, Walter Hewell, Konstantin Hierl, et al. 


IMDb Storyline: “In this episode of the Why We Fight propaganda series, the events from the English and French declarations of war against Nazi Germany to the conquest of France by the Nazi. In detail, we learn of how a combination of innovative Nazi military tactics and the work of traitors allowed the conquest of much of Central Europe.”


IMDb Review: “It's hard to believe that Americans needed any propaganda in the Second World War to encourage them to support the fight against Nazism. However, up until Pearl Harbour, this was the case. Many Americans took an isolationist attitude, believing that events in Europe were none of their business. Some German-Americans and others formed Bund Societies, actively supporting the Nazi cause! Of course, all this changed on 7 December 1941...'Divide and Conquer' is rather pale propaganda, intended to stir up American support for the fight against Hitler. While the cause is admirable, this is weak stuff. We see newsreel footage of Hitler making radio speeches in German, calmly assuring Denmark and Holland that they have nothing to fear from Germany. Then we see footage of German ships and tanks invading those nations. Walter Huston, as the primary narrator, commendably avoids histrionics, but unfortunately reads his lines from a script which requires him to editorialise, telling us how evil and untrustworthy Hitler is. The events ought to speak for themselves. At one point, we are treated to a brief and utterly gratuitous snip of footage depicting bank-robber John Dillinger glowering at the camera, so that Huston can compare Dillinger to Hitler. That's a bad choice: in the 1940s, many Americans considered the late Dillinger a sort of folk hero. The most interesting parts of this film are the clips of German battle footage, apparently captured by Allied forces. We also see footage of 'undesirables' in occupied France being loaded into tumbrels by their Nazi captors and driven hell-knows-where. What makes this footage powerful is the fact that we see the same faces in more than one shot, forcing us to realise that each of these faces is a specific human being with a real history and a past ... though perhaps not much future. There are some extremely crude animation sequences, depicting arrows moving across Europe to indicate the Nazi advance. These animations were made very inexpensively, and look it, but perhaps that's a point in their favour. The Nazis spent a huge amount of money on 'Kolberg', a ridiculous propaganda film which required them to divert forces and materiel from the western and eastern fronts. By spending  so very little money on 'Divide and Conquer', perhaps the U.S. government was able to spend a bit more on feeding the troops who had to win the war. Bless you all, band of brothers. 'Divide and Conquer' has very little to offer as cinema, and even less to offer as history: if you want to learn about the Second World War, this film is not remotely one of the best places to start. This film has outlived its usefulness ... but only because the Good Guys won that war: a victory which may have happened partially because of the G.I.s depicted in this film. God bless America...”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE MEMPHIS BELLE (a/k/a  THE MEMPHIS BELLE: A STORY OF A FLYING FORTRESS) and  HYMN OF THE NATIONS
        

THE MEMPHIS BELLE:  1944; B&W; 66 Mins.


Director: William Wyler.  


Wikipedia, different articles:  This is a War Department production.   “Memphis Belle is the nickname of a Boeing B-17F     Flying Fortress that was used during the Second World War that inspired the making of two motion pictures: a 1944     documentary film, Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and a 1990 Hollywood feature film, Memphis Belle. The aircraft was one of the first United States Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds. As of 2016, the aircraft was being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio with plans to put it on display by 2018....The Memphis Belle, a Boeing-built B-17F-10-BO, manufacturer's serial number 3470, USAAC Serial No. 41-24485, was added to the USAAF inventory on 15 July 1942, and delivered in September 1942 to the 91st Bombardment Group at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine.She deployed to Prestwick, Scotland,    on 30 September 1942, moving to a temporary base at RAF Kimbolton on 1 October, and then finally to her permanent base at Bassingbourn, England, on 14 October. Each side of the fuselage bore the unit and aircraft identification markings of a B-17 of the 324th Bomb Squadron (Heavy); the squadron code "DF" and individual aircraft letter "A.".... Captain Robert K. Morgan's crew flew 29 combat missions with the 324th Bomb Squadron, all but four in the Memphis Belle.....The aircraft was then flown back to the United States on 8 June 1943, by a composite crew chosen by the Eighth Air Force from those who had flown combat aboard, led by Capt. Morgan, for a 31-city war bond tour. Morgan's original co-pilot was Capt. James A. Verinis, who himself piloted the Memphis Belle for one mission. Verinis was promoted to aircraft commander of another B-17 for his final 16 missions and finished his tour on 13 May. He rejoined Morgan's crew as co-pilot for the flight back to the United States. The B-17 Hell's Angels (41-24577) of the 303rd Bomb Group completed 25 combat missions on 13 May 1943, becoming the first B-17 to complete the feat, one week before the Memphis Belle.The aircraft was named after pilot Robert K Morgan's sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan originally intended to call the aircraft Little One, which was his pet name for her, but after Morgan and copilot Jim Verinis saw the movie Lady for a Night, in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle, he proposed that name to his crew. Morgan then contacted George Petty at the offices of Esquire magazine and asked him for a pinup drawing to go with the name, which Petty supplied from the magazine's April 1941 issue.The 91st's group artist, Corporal Tony Starcer, copied the Petty girl as art on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her suit in blue on the aircraft's port side and in red on the starboard. The nose art later included 25 bomb shapes, one for each mission credit, and eight swastika designs, one for each German aircraft claimed shot down by the crew. Station and crew names were stenciled below station windows on the aircraft after her tour of duty was completed.” 

HYMN OF THE NATIONS: 1944, B&W, 31 Mins


Director: Alexander Hammid.  

Participants:   Arturo Toscanini, Jan Peerce, The Westminister Choir, Burgess Meredith (Narrator), Walfredo Toscanini, NBC Symphony Orchestra.
      

Wikipedia: “Hymn of the Nations, originally titled Arturo Toscanini: Hymn of the Nations, is a 1944 film directed by Alexander Hammid, which features the Inno delle nazioni, a patriotic work for tenor soloist, chorus, and orchestra, composed by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi in the early-1860s. For this musical work, Verdi utilized the national anthems of several European nations. In December 1943, Arturo Toscanini filmed a performance of this music for inclusion in an Office of War Information documentary about the role of Italian-Americans in aiding the Allies during World War II. Toscanini added a bridge passage to include arrangements of "The Star Spangled Banner" for the United States and "The Internationale" for the Soviet Union and the Italian partisans. Joining Toscanini in the filmed performance in NBC Studio 8-H, were tenor Jan Peerce, the Westminster Choir, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The film also included the overture to Verdi's opera La Forza del Destino. The narration was written by May Sarton, film editing by Boris Kaufman, and narration read by actor Burgess Meredith. The original version was released on VHS by Blackhawk Films, which retitled it Arturo Toscanini Conducts Giuseppe Verdi. [This is a ] newly restored version by the Library of Congress, with the Meredith narration...The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE WORLD AT WAR  
1942; B&W; 66 Mins. (Available in both DVD and BluRay)


Director:  Lowell Mellett.  


Wikipedia Storyline: “The World at War is a 1942 documentary film produced by the Office of War Information. One of the earliest long length films made by the government during the war, it attempted to explain the large picture of why the United States was at war, and the various causes and circumstances which brought the war into being. It can thus be seen as an anticipation, or trial run of the much better known 6-part Why We Fight propaganda film series directed by Frank Capra.”  

National Archive: “A feature length motion picture presenting step-by-step the events which led up to Pearl Harbor and total war. History, filmed as it happened, shows the massacre of Ethiopia, the invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the blitz of Poland, the tragic fall of France. Material was taken from secret government archives.” Reviews: “superb documentary Given the time for which this film was produced, it is a superb documentary of the events leading up to our involvement to the second world war. As Frank Capra had also done, this film lets the documented facts speak for themselves, a brilliantly simple. propaganda technique.... Very well put together history of the events leading up to the war using mostly news archives from the US, and as well from other news organizations. This has a lot of footage you've seen before, (aka the taking over of Germany, Pearl Harbor) and some you haven't (Whoa! I never knew the Nazi Party had a rally in NYC, In Madison Square Garden no less!!) so some of it is quite fascinating. The first half is better than the second half, which is, excuse the term, a bit pedestrian. And there's some rather spotty editing, not too sure if it's splices or what, but some scenes are badly put together. But still, amazing footage!”


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THUNDERBOLT   1947; Color; 55 Mins.


Directors:  John Sturges, William Wyler

Cast:    James Stewart, Lloyd Bridges (Voice of the Pilot, Robert Lowery (Narrator), Eugene Kern.  


IMDb Storyline: “A WW2 documentary on the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter/bomber pilots in missions (Operation Strangle) from their base in Corsica to Northern Italy in 1944, destroying railroads, bridges, trains, vehicles and hard targets.”  


IMDb Review: “WW2 documentary directed by John Sturges and William Wyler with an added introduction from James Stewart. The documentary covers the P-47 Thunderbolt pilots whose mission was to knock out all the train tracks and bridges throughout Corsica, Italy so that the German's couldn't get any supplies. Sturges and Wyler put twelve different cameras on the planes so there's a lot of terrific arial footage of the bombings, which is quite impressive. I don't think the documentary plays out too well today because we see things getting bombed even though the pilots aren't sure if it's the Germans or perhaps civilians. There's also some footage of what the pilots do when they're not working but the documentary ends on a downnote as some of the men in the crew never made it back home. The film's biggest problem is the narration, which is so slow that it can't keep up with all the action going on in the movie. Lloyd Bridges provides the voice of one of the pilots.”
    
MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
1943; B&W; 53 Mins.


Directors:   Frank Capra, Anthony Veiller

Cast:  Douglas Bader, Arno Breker, Winston Churchill, Hermann Göring, Adolf Hitler, John B. Hughes, Walter Huston, Frieda Inescort, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Erich Raeder, Erwin Rommel, Albert Speer.  


IMDb Storyline: “In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda film series, we have the account of Great Britain's last stand against the forces of Nazi Germany. This mainly focuses on the desperate, but successful, battle to maintain their vital air superiority over the British Isles and the morale of the people to prevent invasion.”  


IMDb Review: “With all of mainland Europe under his control Hitler prepares for the last obstacle in his way before heading for North America, Great Britain. With an overwhelming edge in aircraft Goering's Luftwaffe looks unstoppable on paper. Once in the air however the RAF tenaciously disrupts the paradigm by blowing the enemy out of sky air at a seven to one rate. The Battle of Britain rages on for a over a year as the Island nation is bloodied but unbowed providing crucial time for their American allies to produce more arms for the inevitable struggle. Using more staged footage than the three previous documentaries in the Why We Fight series the Battle of Britain has a more propaganda like feel to it with the dramatized (some with unmistakable Warners music score ) scenes glaringly obvious to newsreel. In an ironic twist amid the devastation caused by German air attacks Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is employed to underscore the visual suffering. The story itself is one of remarkable courage by a defiant nation who refused to buckle under to the devastating attacks inflicted upon it by up until that point an invincible war machine. It is the 20th century version of the 300 Spartans. There have been more exhaustively researched and better looking commercial efforts done on this battle since this film but the immediacy and motivation The Battle of Britain provided then will always make it a more valuable document of England during its "Finest Hour".”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE BATTLE OF RUSSIA  
1943; B&W; 83 Mins.


Directors:  Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak

Cast:  Ion Antonescu, Nikolay Cherkasov, Alexander Nevsky, Anthony Eden, Hermann Göring, Adolf Hitler, Miklós Horthy, Alfred Jodl, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Ye. Karrik, King Charles XII of Sweden, Wilhelm Keitel, King Boris III, King Michael, General Kosakov, Maxim Litvinov, Yosuke Matsuoka.


IMDb Storyline: “In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the events on the Russian front of World War II. We learn about Russia's heroic resistance to invasion in the past and how those qualities were called upon in the current war. We also learn about Russian tenacity and their determination to win against the seemingly invincible forces of Nazi Germany in the bloodiest fighting of the war.”  


IMDb Review: “In June 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union . Less than four years later the outcome was 35 million dead human beings , Nazi German defeat and a " cold war " that lasted 45 years with the threat of humanity destroying itself in nuclear conflict . One of the characteristics of the cold war was both the Soviets and Americans trying to paint themselves whiter than whiter and the other side blacker than black . America being a democracy and with a free
press found the task slightly more difficult but let us not forget the McCarthy
witch hunts of the 1950s and of popular fiction of the period when every
science fiction film with an alien invasion was spearheaded from Mars the
red planet because ... well reds are commies are they not ? Bearing this in
mind perhaps the most successful propaganda to come out of America was
when the Soviets were our friends in the battle against Nazism and this
propaganda piece is propaganda at its most enthralling “One massive irritating thing about this documentary is in the use of the word that appears in the title - Russia . It's used euphemistically . Being a Scot someone uses the word " England " or " English " when the word " Britain " or " British " is meant even very mild mannered Celts with no real nationalist instinct get very angry at this lazy mistake and one feels great pity for the 193 million citizens featured in this tribute constantly being referred to as Russians when in fact they're Soviets “Facts are ignored to a large degree because this is a propaganda film though be it a superlative one . The Nazi strategy of Blitzkrieg is referred to as defeating Poland in 18 days . Not inaccurate though it does miss out the important point that after 18 days the Soviet Union then invaded the Polish eastern border and imposed a reign of terror on the Poles living there . When the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union is underway it over states the capacity of the Germans who were reliant upon the horse and cart rather being an entirely motorised and mechanical force as is insinuated here . The Soviet defence in depth is not nearly as effective as painted and the German slowed down due to logistical problems and the onset of the Russian Winter , the Soviet " not one step back " mindset was often down to commissars and NKVD special squads enforcing Stalin's orders in the first six months of the war rather than the average Red Army soldier's fighting spirit and religion was only legalised because of the War . Part one of the film ends with the Russians being described as " Free and united people " which is not the case since communism isn't a democratic ideal centered around freedom and more than a few Soviet citizens most notably in the Baltic states and the Ukraine sided with the Nazis.  But where propaganda works best is in emotion combined with an element of truth and the truth is the Nazis butchered millions of Soviets simply because being of Slavonic ethnicity they were considered "untermenschen" by the Nazi regime and this film pulls no punches on the atrocities forced upon the Soviets . We see the bodies of dead children who were burned alive by the Nazis and of young women who have suffered rape at the hands of the Nazis who not only ignored the Geneva convention but ironically their own Nuremberg laws involving race mixing . This film will have you weeping tears for Soviet suffering and have you cheering as they take the fight to the fascist hordes in what is one of the best propaganda pieces you will ever see . So much so that that if it wasn't some of the airbrushing of history as I mentioned earlier such as the Soviets attitude of Poland I would have no hesitation in saying it's one of the greatest documentaries ever made on the Second World War and shows the Soviet blood sacrifice as being the main reason for the defeat of Hitler's regime.”
 
MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE BATTLE OF CHINA

1944; B&W; 63 Mins.


Directors:  Frank Capra (uncredited), Anatole Litvak.

Cast:  Claire Chennault, Kai-Shek Chiang, Madame Chiang, Teh Chu, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, William F. Halsey, Hirohito, Walter Huston, Douglas MacArthur, William Mayer, Louis Mountbatten, Henry Pu-yi, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph W. Stilwell.  


IMDb Storyline:  “In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the country of China and its people. With a brief history of the country, we also learn of why the Japanese wanted to conquer it and felt confident about succeeding. Finally, the history of the war in that theatre is illustrated and shows the stiff determination of the Chinese who use all their resources to oppose Japanese aggression to the end.”


IMDb Review: “ This is direct text book documentary propaganda. You could base a documentary class around this. It is Capra's World War II documentary about China's turmoil with Japan. Obviously, we were at war with Japan, and allied with China. Even today, it could fool some people, but most people have seen just how horrific those "marches" were. Back to back with Russia, China is shown in the film to strategically move everything Westward, away from Japan. Back to back with Russia, they could use industry, relatively safe with their ally, against Japan, because Russia had to do the same with Germany. The mass migration, the mass deployments, the mass use of labor, all are shown in true propaganda form as being strategic and heroic. Incredibly, these same images are used today to show immense brutality and inhumanity, as we value human life much more today. In the forties, patriotism and Nationalism were prize feelings, for better or worse.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: WAR COMES TO AMERICA 
1945; B&W; 66 Mins.


Directors: Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak

Cast: Dean Acheson, General Bergeret, A.A. Berle, Arno Breker, Neville     Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Galeazzo Ciano, Édouard Daladier, Charles Edison, Francisco Franco, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler, Hirohito.  


IMDb Storyline: “In this final installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, the subject focuses on the United States of America. We learn of its good qualities and the things worth fighting for. With that established, we learn of the history of the United States' population shifting opinion towards siding with the Allies against the Axis until the attack on Pearl Harbour which brought America into full scale involvement in the war.”


IMDb Review: “....Walter Huston serves as the elder statesman narrator giving the history of our country from Plymoth Rock to Pearl Harbor. He tells how people of most nationalities have helped to make our country great and how we suffered and triumphed. Through a combination of news footage and recreations we also see what actions from Germany and Japan led us to battle with them. There's also some wonderful use of songs like Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Kern and Hammerstein's The Last Time I Saw Paris (with vocals that sound like Judy Garland), and Berlin's This is the Army. So to anyone who wants to watch what it was like in the mid-20th century, I highly recommend War Comes to America. Oh, and if you happen to meet a veteran, by all means thank him or her!”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   DECEMBER 7TH
1943; B&W; 82 Mins.


Directors:   John Ford, Gregg Toland

Writer: Budd ; Schulberg

Cast:  Walter Huston, Harry Davenport, Dana Andrews, Paul Hurst, George O'Brien, James Kevin McGuinness, Philip Ahn, Addie Allen, Ralph Byrd, James Conaty, Hirohito, Adolf Hitler, James E. Kelley, Mrs. James E. Kelley, Mrs. William J. Leight, William J. Leight, 'Ducky' Louie, Robert Lowery, Benito Mussolini, Irving Pichel, Joseph B. Poindexter, Henry L. Rosenthal, Mrs. Henry L. Rosenthal, Lionel Royce, William R. Schick Jr., Mrs. William H. Schick, William H. Schick, Karl Swenson, Mrs. Stephen Szabo, Stephen Szabo, Jesus A. Tafoya, Mrs. Jesus A. Tafoya, Charles Tannen, H.N. Wallin.  


IMDb Storyline: “In the aftermath of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, director Gregg Toland is tasked by producer John Ford, both now serving in the navy, to film a documentary about that infamous day. What Toland provided was an 82 minute documentary that featured not only the attack but focused heavily on the local Japanese population's supposedly large role as spies providing information to the
homeland. Ford took over the direction of the film and the military eventually released a 34 minute version focusing on the attack. The longer version features Uncle Sam telling the audience how naive America was before Pearl Harbor with recreations of Japanese people collecting information in preparation for the attack.”


IMDb Review: “This is another war documentary by Ford, obviously detailing the nefarious 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour that saw the U.S. finally enter WWII. Ironically, the film was originally made as a feature (running 82 minutes) but was heavily censored by the authorities – despite having been commissioned by President Roosevelt himself! – to the point that it was reduced to a 34-minute short, entered in the Academy Award category for Best Documentary Short and winning the Oscar! For the record, only the edited version was released among the extras on Fox's BECOMING JOHN FORD (2007) DVD ...Anyway, this makes a much better attempt [than the short version] to tell the whole story than THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY (one imagines the feature being that more comprehensive in this regard!), and only resorts to mawkishness – albeit movingly done regardless – towards the end i.e. when the fallen soldiers 'introduce' themselves to the audience. Needless to say, the Japanese side is depicted in strictly caricatured terms (which was the accepted norm for the duration of the conflict, seen also in contemporary cartoons!)…but, while a Japanese civilian (sympathizing with the invasion) is interviewed, we also get to see how other naturalized Orientals hid evidence (not just store-signs but the Asian calligraphy itself!) of their old country in shame. Again, a number of stars lend their services to provide the accompanying narration: I recognized Walter Huston's voice in this streamlined copy but, reportedly, the likes of Harry Davenport and Dana Andrews were also involved.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE TRUE GLORY 
1945; B&W; 82 Mins.


Directors: Garson Kanin, Carol Reed

Writer:  Paddy Chayevsky, Peter Ustinov, many others

Cast:   Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Fallon, Robert Harris, Sam Levene, Peter Ustinov


IMDb Storyline: “A documentary account of the allied invasion of Europe during World War II compiled from the footage shot by nearly 1400 cameramen. It opens as the assembled allied forces plan and train for the D-Day invasion at bases in Great Britain and covers all the major events of the war in Europe from the Normandy landings to the fall of Berlin.”  


IMDb Review: “This is one of the best-regarded of the classic wartime documentaries – another Academy Award winner, as it happens – and, in retrospect, among those that has stood the test of time reasonably well. Co-incidentally, its viewing followed that of THEY WON'T FORGET (1937) starring Claude Rains, who is featured here as one of several uncredited narrators! With this in mind, while one understands that such films were made as collective efforts for morale-boosting purposes, it feels odd to realize who may or may not have been involved only while watching it…or even after the fact (I was not aware, for instance, that the script was by Paddy Chayefsky)! Anyway, its enduring qualities over more dated similar efforts has much to do with the film's very structure – not only the various nations involved in the Allied cause taking turns to provide 'first-hand' commentary throughout, but its detailing the progress towards the end of WWII (from D-Day to the fall of Berlin). It was interesting, to be sure, to watch real footage of a number of famed battlegrounds which would later be fictionalized as star-studded spectacles by the commercial cinema – the Normandy invasion itself in THE LONGEST DAY (1962), the BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1965), the entry into Berlin following the capture of THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN (1968) and the ill-fated Allied maneuver at Arnhem in A BRIDGE TOO FAR (1977). Other points worth mentioning here are the fact that this was 'presented' by U.S. Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower (indeed, it is said that the gold statuette on Oscar night was delivered to him personally!), later the 34th American President, and the early harrowing depiction of the realities behind German concentration camps which, as stated in the film itself, removed from one's mind any notion of the futility for such a conflict.” 


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  ARMY-NAVY SCREEN MAGAZINE

1943 - 1946; B&W; 73 Mins. (Available in both DVD and BluRay versions)


Director: Frank Capra


Wikipedia: “The Army–Navy Screen Magazine was a short film program and series which was shown to the American soldiers around the world during World War II. It included a newsreel and a cartoon of Private Snafu. It was produced from June 1943 until early 1946 by the Army Signal Corps under the supervision of director Frank Capra. The Snafu series was produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions/Warner Bros. Cartoons, UPA, MGM, Harman-Ising Studio and Walt Disney Productions.” National Archives: “Produced by the Signal Corps’ Army Pictorial Service under the supervision of Frank Capra, The Army-Navy Screen Magazine was a biweekly news, information, and entertainment short subject designed for servicemen and screened in all military motion picture theaters....The Army-Navy Screen Magazine was shown before the feature film in all military motion picture theaters during the Second World War. While the purpose of the series was primarily to educate, the producers recognized that they must also succeed in entertaining a paying GI audience who had come to see a first-run Hollywood feature. Typically, each 20-minute episode consisted of four or five segments featuring stories about the home front, news about major events of the war, an animated cartoon, and a variety show with entertainers like Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and Lena Horne.Yet, when it had to, the Screen Magazine could deal with more serious topics as well. The series became the eyes and ears of its soldier audience as it covered such news events as D-Day, Germany’s surrender, the death of FDR, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the end of the war, the Army-Navy Screen Magazine reached an enormous weekly audience of 4.2 million. It had become for American soldiers all over the world a communal experience that greatly influenced their perception of the war. Although the Screen Magazine was, of course, an instrument of official policy, its honest no-nonsense approach won it the respect and affection of its GI audience.” 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE MEMPHIS BELLE (a/k/a THE MEMPHIS BELLE: A STORY  OF A FLYING FORTRESS) and  HYMN OF THE NATIONS     
        
THE MEMPHIS BELLE:  1944; B&W; 66 Mins.

Director: William Wyler.  

Wikipedia, several different articles:   [This is a War Department production.]   “Memphis Belle is the nickname of a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress that was used during the Second World War that inspired the making of two motion pictures: a 1944 documentary film, Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and a 1990 Hollywood feature film, Memphis Belle. The aircraft was one of the first United States Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds. As of 2016, the aircraft was being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio with plans to put it on display by 2018....The Memphis Belle, a Boeing-built B-17F-10-BO, manufacturer's serial number 3470, USAAC Serial No. 41-24485, was added to the USAAF inventory on 15 July 1942, and delivered in September 1942 to the 91st Bombardment Group at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine. She deployed to Prestwick, Scotland, on 30 September 1942, moving to a temporary base at RAF Kimbolton on 1 October, and then finally to her permanent base at Bassingbourn, England, on 14 October. Each side of the fuselage bore the unit and aircraft identification markings of a B-17 of the 324th Bomb Squadron (Heavy); the squadron code "DF" and individual aircraft letter "A.".... Captain Robert K. Morgan's crew flew 29 combat missions with the 324th Bomb Squadron, all but four in the Memphis Belle.....The aircraft was then flown back to the United States on 8 June 1943, by a composite crew chosen by the Eighth Air Force from those who had flown combat aboard, led by Capt. Morgan, for a 31-city war bond tour. Morgan's original co-pilot was Capt. James A. Verinis, who himself piloted the Memphis Belle for one mission. Verinis was promoted to aircraft commander of another B-17 for his final 16 missions and finished his tour on 13 May. He rejoined Morgan's crew as co-pilot for the flight back to the United States. The B-17 Hell's Angels (41-24577) of the 303rd Bomb Group completed 25 combat missions on 13 May 1943, becoming the first B-17 to complete the feat, one week before the Memphis Belle.The aircraft was named after pilot Robert K Morgan's sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan originally intended to call the aircraft Little One, which was his pet name for her, but after Morgan and copilot Jim Verinis saw the movie Lady for a Night, in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle, he proposed that name to his crew. Morgan then contacted George Petty at the offices of Esquire magazine and asked him for a pinup drawing to go with the name, which Petty supplied from the magazine's April 1941 issue.The 91st's group artist, Corporal Tony Starcer, copied the Petty girl as art on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her suit in blue on the aircraft's port side and in red on the starboard. The nose art later included 25 bomb shapes, one for each mission credit, and eight swastika designs, one for each German aircraft claimed shot down by the crew. Station and crew names were stenciled below station windows on the aircraft after her tour of duty was completed.” 

HYMN OF THE NATIONS 1944, B&W, 31 Mins.


Director: Alexander Hammid

Participants:   Arturo Toscanini, Jan Peerce, The Westminister Choir, Burgess Meredith (Narrator), Walfredo Toscanini, NBC Symphony Orchestra. 


 Wikipedia:  “Hymn of the Nations, originally titled Arturo Toscanini: Hymn of the Nations, is a 1944 film directed by Alexander Hammid, which features the Inno delle nazioni, a patriotic work for tenor soloist, chorus, and orchestra, composed by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi in the early-1860s. For this musical work, Verdi utilized the national anthems of several European nations. In December 1943, Arturo Toscanini filmed a performance of this music for inclusion in an Office of War Information documentary about the role of Italian-Americans in aiding the Allies during World War II. Toscanini added a bridge passage to include arrangements of "The Star Spangled Banner" for the United States and "The Internationale" for the Soviet Union and the Italian partisans. Joining Toscanini in the filmed performance in NBC Studio 8-H, were tenor Jan Peerce, the Westminster Choir, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The film also included the overture to Verdi's opera La Forza del Destino. The narration was written by May Sarton, film editing by Boris Kaufman, and narration read by actor Burgess Meredith. The original version was released on VHS by Blackhawk Films, which retitled it Arturo Toscanini Conducts Giuseppe Verdi. [This is a ] newly restored version by the Library of Congress, with the Meredith narration...The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE WORLD AT WAR      
1942; B&W; 66 Mins.

Director:  Lowell Mellett


IMDb  Storyline: “The World at War is a 1942 documentary film produced by the Office of War Information. One of the earliest long length films made by the government during the war, it attempted to explain the large picture of why the United States was at war, and the various causes and circumstances which brought the war into being. It can thus be seen as an anticipation, or trial run of the much better known 6-part Why We Fight propaganda film series directed by Frank Capra.”  Wikipedia

National Archive: “A feature length motion picture presenting step-by-step the events which led up to Pearl Harbor and total war. History, filmed as it happened, shows the massacre of Ethiopia, the invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the blitz of Poland, the tragic fall of France. Material was taken from secret government archives.” Reviews: “superb documentary Given the time for which this film was produced, it is a superb documentary of the events leading up to our involvement to the second world war. As Frank Capra had also done, this film lets the documented facts speak for themselves, a brilliantly simple. propaganda technique.... Very well put together history of the events leading up to the war using mostly news archives from the US, and as well from other news organizations. This has a lot of footage you've seen before, (aka the taking over of Germany, Pearl Harbor) and some you havent (Whoa! I never knew the Nazi Party had a rally in NYC, In Madison Square Garden no less!!) so some of it is quite fascinating. The first half is better than the second half, which is, excuse the term, a bit pedestrian. And there's some rather spotty editing, not too sure if it's splices or what, but some scenes are badly put together. But still, amazing footage!”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THUNDERBOLT  

1947, Color, 55 Mins.


Directors:  John Sturges, William Wyler

Cast:    James Stewart, Lloyd Bridges (Voice of the Pilot, Robert Lowery (Narrator), Eugene Kern.  


IMDb Storyline: “A WW2 documentary on the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter/bomber pilots in missions (Operation Strangle) from their base in Corsica to Northern Italy in 1944, destroying railroads, bridges, trains, vehicles and hard targets.”  


IMDb Review: “WW2 documentary directed by John Sturges and William Wyler with an added introduction from James Stewart. The documentary covers the P-47 Thunderbolt pilots whose mission was to knock out all the train tracks and bridges throughout Corsica, Italy so that the German's couldn't get any supplies. Sturges and Wyler put twelve different cameras on the planes so there's a lot of terrific ariel footage of the bombings, which is quite impressive. I don't think the documentary plays out too well today because we see things getting bombed even though the pilots aren't sure if it's the Germans or perhaps civilians. There's also some footage of what the pilots do when they're not working but the documentary ends on a downnote as some of the men in the crew never made it back home. The film's biggest problem is the narration, which is so slow that it can't keep up with all the action going on in the movie. Lloyd Bridges provides the voice of one of the pilots.”
    
FICTION ACTION/ADVENTURE


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   AERIAL GUNNER            
1943; B&W; 78 Mins.


Director: William H. Pine

Cast:  Chester Morris, Richard Arlen, Jimmy Lydon, Amelita Ward (as Lita Ward), Dick Purcell, Keith Richards, William 'Billy' Benedict, Olive Blakeney; in uncredited bit parts: Robert Mitchum and Jeff Corey; other extras:  Kirk Alyn, Edward Earle, Frank Fenton, Gil Frye, John Hamilton, John James, Charles J. Jordan, William Marshall, Barbara Pepper, Ralph Sanford, Beth Stone, Brick Sullivan, Allen Wood.  


IMDb Storyline: “Old rivals are pitted against each other in basic training and fight for the same woman.”  


IMDb Review: “1943 war movie involving two army men who knew each other on the outside on different sides of the law. Having his father sent away in prison where he later committed suicide Foxy Pattis, Chester Morris,had it in for the young assistant DA responsible for his dads death Jon David, Richard Aplen. Davis joining the army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor surprisingly meets Foxie who turns out to be his instructor in aerial gunnery school at camp Hags Texas, you can just imagine what happens next. The movie actually begins when Davis, now a lieutenant in the USAAF,flies his disabled bomber back to the American lines in the Pacific. Badly wounded with almost all his crew-mates, with the exception of Pvt. "Gadget" Blaine (Dick Purcel), dead Davis goes into a long monologue about what happened From that point on we get the story about Foxie's courage under fire and how both David & Blaine owe their lives to him. We get the usual war story, from Davis, about him having all kinds of trouble with Foxie, who does everything to wash him out of Gunnery School, at Hags and the added attraction of both Foxie and Davis vying for the love of Peggy Lunt, Amelita Ward. It turns out that Peggy's brother the quite and sensitive Pvt. Sandy Lunt, Jimmy Lyndon,is also at Gunnery School and is in Foxie's class. Sandy panic-stricken at shooting his off tail-gun at the school's qualifying finals is given a second chance by the understanding Foxie. The next day Sandy after hitting his target goes psycho and blows up his planes tail section sending it into a free fall and crashing into an empty field. Sandy is visited by Foxie at the hospital and forgives the very guilty stricken gunnery instructor for sending him up in the air to shoot off his gun and then suddenly expires. The movie then moves to the Pacific Theater of War where we now see Davis in charge of a bomber crew and guess who's his newest crew member, Foxie! Not only is Davis reunited with Foxie but the same people at Hags who were instructed by Foxie in aerial gunnery school are members of Davis' crew, what are the odds of that happening! Hated by everyone on the bomber crew for what he had to do with Sandy's death which was really nothing at all since Sandy was determined to go up in the air, and how the hell did Foxie know that he'd blow himself and his plane up. Foxie gets his big chance to redeem himself later in the movie in a dog fight with a half dozen Japanese zeros in the air and well as a full company of Japanese troops on the ground. Foxie heroically ends up giving his life to save his fellow crew members who both hated and despised him. Nothing really out of the ordinary here when it comes to war propaganda films released by Hollywood during WWII. There's also a very young, and ruggedly handsome, Robert Mitchum in a small part in the movie, playing a tail gunner, that makes "Aerial Gunner" something of a curiosity piece.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  COMMANDOS  

1968; Color; 98 Mins.


Director: Armando Crispino

Cast:   Lee Van Cleef, Jack Kelly, Giampiero Albertini, Marino Masé, Götz George, Pier Paolo Capponi, Ivano Staccioli, Marilù Tolo, Joachim Fuchsberger, Heinz Reincke, Helmut Schmid, Otto Stern, Pier Luigi Anchisi, Gianni Brezza,
Duilio Del Prete.  


IMDb Storyline: “Sgt. Sullivan puts together a group of Italian-Americans into disguise as Italian soldiers in order to infiltrate a North African camp held by the Italians. After the soldiers have knifed the Italians in their beds, they find a hooker living at the camp. Sullivan's commandos are to hold this camp and its weaponry until an American battalion arrives, all the while these Italian-Americans pretend to be Italian soldiers, often hosting the enemy. Lt. Valli is a young, "green," by-the-book officer who constantly argues with Sgt. Sullivan, who tells his superior that he has no idea what he is doing. One man on the base, probably a touch from Argento, is an entomologist who is needlessly killed. Things go terribly wrong after that.”  IMDb Review: “On the eve of the American landings in North Africa, a band of Italian-American soldiers are recruited for a special mission behind the enemy lines. They will capture and hold a vital oasis the day before the Allies land. Unfortunately, the garrison of Italian soldiers and a German Panzer unit will do anything to stop this takeover. Director Crispino is all about style, and just about everything else is disregarded here. The main conflict is between Sergeant Sullivan (Lee Van Cleef, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly") and Captain Valli (Jack Kelly, "To Hell and Back"). Sullivan is an experienced veteran, and Valli is a rear-echelon officer who really shouldn't be in charge. Sullivan questions Valli's authority every step of the way. Unfortunately, this conflict remains shallow throughout, and the characters do little besides yell at and threaten each other. As an individual, however, Sullivan is a fleshed-out, battle-scarred veteran who's haunted by images of a failed campaign in the Pacific. Sadly, Van Cleef overacts through every scene, chewing up the scenery so much that it's hard to take him seriously. The kudos go to the supporting cast, who manage to put on a convincing show from start to finish. Joachim Fuchsburger is fabulous as Lt. Heitzel, a German professor who is now drafted as a Panzer officer. He hates the war, but does his duty for country. Heitzel's character draws sympathy from the audience is his character is naturally fleshed out over the course of a long dinner scene with Valli and Tomassini. It's very nice to see a late-1960s war film in which a German character has a sympathetic role, rather than a clichéd "evil Nazi" part which was so common in other action films produced during the era. On the other hand, Götz George is equally good as Lt. Rudi, a dedicated Hitler Youth-type. The Germans and Americans discuss culture and politics over dinner in one long scene, and this makes their face-to-face encounter during the final battle all the more moving. Finally, there's Marino Mase ("The Five Man Army") as Lt. Tomassini, who commands the Italian garrison and will stop at nothing to escape with the survivors and liberate what's rightfully his. Add to this long list some excellent small roles filled by Ivano Stacciolo, Pier Paolo Capponi, Heinz Reincke and Romano Puppo. Crispino's focus is on the action, and makes the characters just believable enough to appreciate the big, explosive proceedings. The American takeover of the Italian garrison is excellently shot and finely edited, and the climactic tank battle in the oasis is purely awesome. It's filled with great shots of people getting shot, tanks exploding, bullets kicking up puffs of dirt – there are some shots with action going on in both the background and foreground, making for interesting composition. The movie has a very realistic look and feel to it, as well. The Americans and Germans are appropriately armed and clad for the time period. The sweltering sun and dry desert are completely convincing. The oasis set is massive and Crispino makes use of every part of it. The interiors, particularly the big dining room, are well-captured with wide shots and pans. At night, the set is well-lit and the action is completely clear. "Commandos" is a well-written, well-shot and action-packed war drama with a fine supporting cast and some nail-biting combat sequences, which put it a notch above many other Italian war productions in the same vein.”   


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE BATTLE OF EL ALEMEIN    
1969; Color; 96 Mins.

Director:  Giorgio Ferroni
Cast: Frederick Stafford, George Hilton, Michael Rennie, Marco Guglielmi, Ettore Manni, Gérard Herter, Ugo Adinolfi, Giuseppe Addobbati, Ira von Fürstenberg, Salvatore Borghese, Manlio Busoni, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Chiocchio, Massimo Righi, Giulio Donnini. 

IMDb Storyline: “June 1942 El Alamein: Rommel swept towards the River Nile. The fall Egypt and the all important Suez Canal seems inevitable. Italian and German scouts race towards Alexandria. Mussolini has given explicit orders that Italy's forces were to reach the city first.”  

IMDb Review: “.... It is undoubtedly intriguing watching a war film from the other side. ALAMEIN isn't unforgettable human cinema in the way DAS BOOT was but does portray all sides in the conflict as being people who have families at home and it's this that is important to the characters rather than the wider politics of the conflict. Okay maybe the "War is hell" statements are overdone but it's possibly in keeping with the Italian mindset during this era. The Italians were badly equipped with obsolete equipment, very badly led and Italy would traditionally through the last couple of centuries side with the British and French often against Germany so Mussolini's pact with Nazi Germany despite being logical from a political point of view goes against the historical grain. Add to this the fact political and military leaders were quickly promoted due only to their loyalty to the Italian Fascist party and you can see why the average Italian conscript might not be too happy getting killed fighting against a democracy, especially if he knows he's probably going to be better fed in an allied POW camp than in his own army. As a battle hardened NCO realises his section is going to be led by a glory seeking officer we have all the makings of a good melodrama. The film then proceeds to blow it by going out of its way to ruin the early potential. Little things such as the anachronistic Italian helmets with their 1960s camouflage patterns you can overlook if the bigger picture is impressive but it's not. The story soon loses its early focus and instead jumps from one half baked thread to another. Rommel starts getting involved in a plot that would lead to the July 1944 bomb plot. Common myth but Rommel had nothing to do with that. British equipment includes 1960s era American APCs and 1950s era tanks and march in to battle playing bagpipes which sound nothing like bagpipes. It's interesting that the film in its early stages portrays all sides as being intelligent but [by the end] it has become a different and much inferior movie.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR  

1987; Color; 120 Mins.


Director: Jack Gold

Cast:  Alan Arkin, Joanna Pacula, Rutger Hauer, Hartmut Becker,Jack Shepherd, Emil Wolk, Simon Gregor, Linal Haft, Jason Norman, Robert Gwilym, Eli Nathenson, Kurt Raab, Eric P. Caspar, Hugo Bower, Klaus Grünberg.  


IMDb Storyline: “During WWII, the death camp at Treblinka had an escape, causing the Commandant at a similar camp in Sobibor to vow that his camp would never experience the same thing. But those who were its captives, the Jewish laborers that had been spared from the ovens, knew that they were on borrowed time and that their only hope was to escape... the only question was how to do it. However, because the Germans would kill an equal number of others whenever a group attempted to escape, the captives knew that if ever an escape was tried, all 600 prisoners in the camp would have to be included... logistically precluding any ideas about tunnels or sneak breakouts. Indeed, to have such a mass escape could only mean that the Ukrainian guards and German officers would have to be killed, which many of the Jews felt simply reduced themselves to no better than their captors... thus making it a struggle of conscience. And therein lies the story, with the film being based on a factual account of what then ..."


IMDb Review: “Without doubt the most emotionally moving film I have ever seen. The atmosphere created cuts through the fact that it is a movie and puts any normal person actually there. Absolutely the most accurate portrayal of the lowest point of human behaviour ever. It still beggars belief that a so-called civilised nation could embark on the systematic annihilation of people purely based on their religion. God forbid this should ever happen again. I cried several times and I am not an emotional man.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  GO FOR BROKE!  
1951; B&W; 90 Mins.


Director: Robert Pirosh

Cast:  Van Johnson, Lane Nakano, George Miki, Akira Fukunaga, Ken K. Okamoto, Henry Oyasato, Harry Hamada, Henry Nakamura, Warner Anderson, Don Haggerty, Gianna Maria Canale, Dan Riss.  


IMDb Storyline: “A tribute to the U.S. 442nd Regimental Combat Team, formed in 1943 by Presidential permission with Japanese-American volunteers. We follow the training of a platoon under the rueful command of Lt. Mike Grayson who shares common prejudices of the time. The 442nd serve in Italy, then France, distinguishing themselves in skirmishes and battles; gradually and naturally, Grayson's prejudices evaporate with dawning realization that his men are better soldiers than he is. Not preachy.”  


IMDb Review: “Although somewhat conventional in comparison to most of the great WWII film dramas, Go For Broke remains important as the only Hollywood acknowledgement of the 442nd, and the bravery of the Japanese-Americans who fought with it.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  LADY FROM CHUNKING
1942; B&W; 66 Mins.


Director:  William Nigh

Cast:   Anna May Wong, Harold Huber, Mae Clarke, Rick Vallin, Paul Bryar, Ted Hecht, Ludwig Donath (as Louis Donath), James B. Leong, Archie Got, Walter Soo Hoo.


IMDb Storyline: “In Japanese-occupied China, Madame Kwan Mei is the leader of a resistance organization based in a rural village. When two American airmen are shot down near the village, she makes plans to rescue them and have them help her organization. Then, when Japanese General Kaimura arrives in the village, she realizes that a major operation is imminent. She decides to impersonate an aristocrat, in order to win the general's confidence and learn his plans.”  


IMDb Review: “Anna May Wong gives a poised and dignified starring performance that fully demonstrates a great but indefinable quality: screen presence. It is even more remarkable since this film has a grade-c level budget. Harold Huber is miscast as a Japanese General (he often was miscast in his movie roles) but he does manage to subdue his usual tendency to shout dialog, and imbues his performance with the pompousness and ego that the character requires. Ms. Wong is convincing as a leader of brave Chinese WWII resistance, a cause that was close to her international viewpoint and efforts at the time. I would give a 10 star rating to Ms. Wong and maybe a 5 to the film itself. But I absolutely recommend that everyone view "Lady From Chungking" for Anna May Wong's performance. It is indisputably the performance of a true Movie Star.” 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  GUNG HO!   
1943; B&W; 87 Mins.


Director: Ray Enright

Cast: Randolph Scott, Alan Curtis, Noah Beery Jr., J. Carrol Naish, Sam Levene, David Bruce,  Richard Lane, Walter Sande, Louis Jean Heydt, Robert Mitchum, Rod  Cameron, Grace McDonald, Milburn Stone, Peter Coe, Harold Landon.


IMDb Storyline: “Seven weeks after Pearl Harbor, volunteers form the new 2nd Marine Raider Battalion whose purpose is to raid Japanese-held islands. The men selected come from different walks of life but have toughness in common. Under command of Colonel 'Thorwald', they're trained in all imaginable forms of combat. Then, after a perilous submarine journey, they face a daunting first mission: to annihilate the much larger Japanese garrison on Makin Island, in a lengthy battle sequence.”  


IMDb Review: “This fact-based war film (detailing the first ground assault on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor) is neatly divided into two parts – showing, first, the specialized training session of the carefully-chosen platoon (which is quite interesting) and the mission itself (displaying fairly standard heroics but well enough done nonetheless). The film has been criticized for glamorizing what was essentially a band of cutthroats (Leonard Maltin even describes it as "a jaw-dropping experience"). Still, there was no doubt that any war picture made during this time wouldn't ram propagandist slogans down the audience's throat (witness Randolph Scott's final straight-into-camera speech); ironically, even if the latter was the film's nominal star, he's rarely involved in the action proper – being there mainly to co-ordinate things, and repeatedly instigate his men to kill every Jap on the island!). The supporting cast is good, made up of veteran character actors – J. Carroll Naish, Sam Levene – and newcomers – notably Robert Mitchum; however, a fair share of the running-time is unwisely devoted to the romantic triangle involving a girl and two soldiers who happen to be half-brothers (one of them played by Noah Beery Jr.) – all of which has a quite deadening effect on the main narrative! Despite being a relatively early WWII film, the action sequences are surprisingly gutsy – though accentuated on occasion by obvious stock footage.” 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: IDENTITY UNKNOWN  

1945; B&W; 70 Mins.


Director: Walter Colmes

Cast:  Richard Arlen, Cheryl Walker, Roger Pryor, Bobby Driscoll, Lola Lane, Ian Keith, John Forrest, Sarah Padden, Forrest Taylor, Frank Marlowe, Harry Tyler, Nelson Leigh, Charles Williams, Charles Jordan, Dick Scott.


IMDb Storyline: “A soldier survives a bombing in which his three fellow soldiers were killed. When he recovers he discovers he has amnesia, and since his companions' bodies were burned beyond recognition, the army doesn't know which one of the four he is. He goes AWOL and searches out the families of the three dead soldiers, hoping to find out his own identity.” Variety review: “"This picture is socko from every angle, from the original story to the production, directing, acting and editing... Wherever he goes, Arlen helps the people he visits understand more intimately, in the terms of their own dead, why the war was fought, why it is their job to carry on normal activities, and how they will perpetuate the life of their loved one by working  toward a happier U.S.A. in a peaceful world."  (Variety,  April 4, 1945)


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  AERIAL GUNNER            

1943; B&W; 78 Mins.


Director: William H. Pine

Cast:  Chester Morris, Richard Arlen, Jimmy Lydon, Amelita Ward (as Lita Ward), Dick Purcell, Keith Richards, William 'Billy' Benedict, Olive Blakeney; in uncredited bit parts: Robert Mitchum and Jeff Corey; other extras:  Kirk Alyn, Edward Earle, Frank Fenton, Gil Frye, John Hamilton, John James, Charles J. Jordan, William Marshall, Barbara Pepper, Ralph Sanford, Beth Stone,  Brick Sullivan, Allen Wood.  


IMDb Storyline: “Old rivals are pitted against each other in basic training and fight for the same woman.”  


IMDb Review: “1943 war movie involving two army men who knew each other on the outside on different sides of the law. Having his father sent away in prison where he later committed suicide Foxy Pattis, Chester Morris,had it in for the young assistant DA responsible for his dads death Jon David, Richard Aplen. Davis joining the army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor surprisingly meets Foxie who turns out to be his instructor in aerial gunnery school at camp Hags Texas, you can just imagine what happens next. The movie actually begins when Davis, now a lieutenant in the USAAF,flies his disabled bomber back to the American lines in the Pacific. Badly wounded with almost all his crew-mates, with the exception of Pvt. "Gadget" Blaine (Dick Purcel), dead Davis goes into a long monologue about what happened From that point on we get the story about Foxie's courage under fire and how both David & Blaine owe their lives to him. We get the usual war story, from Davis, about him having all kinds of trouble with Foxie, who does everything to wash him out of Gunnery School, at Hags and the added attraction of both Foxie and Davis vying for the love of Peggy Lunt, Amelita Ward. It turns out that Peggy's brother the quite and sensitive Pvt. Sandy Lunt, Jimmy Lyndon,is also at Gunnery School and is in Foxie's class. Sandy panic-stricken at shooting his off tail-gun at the school's qualifying finals is given a second chance by the understanding Foxie. The next day Sandy after hitting his target goes psycho and blows up his planes tail section sending it into a free fall and crashing into an empty field. Sandy is visited by Foxie at the hospital and forgives the very guilty stricken gunnery instructor for sending him up in the air to shoot off his gun and then suddenly expires. The movie then moves to the Pacific Theater of War where we now see Davis in charge of a bomber crew and guess who's his newest crew member, Foxie! Not only is Davis reunited with Foxie but the same people at Hags who were instructed by Foxie in aerial gunnery school are members of Davis' crew, what are the odds of that happening! Hated by everyone on the bomber crew for what he had to do with Sandy's death which was really nothing at all since Sandy was determined to go up in the air, and how the hell did Foxie know that he'd blow himself and his plane up. Foxie gets his big chance to redeem himself later in the movie in a dog fight with a half dozen Japanese zeros in the air and well as a full company of Japanese troops on the ground. Foxie heroically ends up giving his life to save his fellow crew members who both hated and despised him. Nothing really out of the ordinary here when it comes to war propaganda films released by Hollywood during WWII. There's also a very young, and ruggedly handsome, Robert Mitchum in a small part in the movie, playing a tail gunner, that makes "Aerial Gunner" something of a curiosity piece.”

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  COMMANDOS    
1968; Color; 98 Mins.


Director: Armando Crispino

Cast:   Lee Van Cleef, Jack Kelly, Giampiero Albertini, Marino Masé, Götz George, Pier Paolo Capponi, Ivano Staccioli, Marilù Tolo, Joachim Fuchsberger, Heinz Reincke, Helmut Schmid, Otto Stern, Pier Luigi Anchisi, Gianni Brezza,

Duilio Del Prete.  


IMDb Storyline: “Sgt. Sullivan puts together a group of Italian-Americans into disguise as Italian soldiers in order to infiltrate a North African camp held by the Italians. After the soldiers have knifed the Italians in their beds, they find a hooker living at the camp. Sullivan's commandos are to hold this camp and its weaponry until an American battalion arrives, all the while these Italian-Americans pretend to be Italian soldiers, often hosting the enemy. Lt. Valli is a young, "green," by-the-book officer who constantly argues with Sgt. Sullivan, who tells his superior that he has no idea what he is doing. One man on the base, probably a touch from Argento, is an entomologist who is needlessly killed. Things go terribly wrong after that.”  


IMDb Review: “On the eve of the American landings in North Africa, a band of Italian-American soldiers are recruited for a special mission behind the enemy lines. They will capture and hold a vital oasis the day before the Allies land. Unfortunately, the garrison of Italian soldiers and a German Panzer unit will do anything to stop this takeover. Director Crispino is all about style, and just about everything else is disregarded here. The main conflict is between Sergeant Sullivan (Lee Van Cleef, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly") and Captain Valli (Jack Kelly, "To Hell and Back"). Sullivan is an experienced veteran, and Valli is a rear-echelon officer who really shouldn't be in charge. Sullivan questions Valli's authority every step of the way. Unfortunately, this conflict remains shallow throughout, and the characters do little besides yell at and threaten each other. As an individual, however, Sullivan is a fleshed-out, battle-scarred veteran who's haunted by images of a failed campaign in the Pacific. Sadly, Van Cleef overacts through every scene, chewing up the scenery so much that it's hard to take him seriously. The kudos go to the supporting cast, who manage to put on a convincing show from start to finish. Joachim Fuchsburger is fabulous as Lt. Heitzel, a German professor who is now drafted as a Panzer officer. He hates the war, but does his duty for country. Heitzel's character draws sympathy from the audience is his character is naturally fleshed out over the course of a long dinner scene with Valli and Tomassini. It's very nice to see a late-1960s war film in which a German character has a sympathetic role, rather than a clichéd "evil Nazi" part which was so common in other action films produced during the era. On the other hand, Götz George is equally good as Lt. Rudi, a dedicated Hitler Youth-type. The Germans and Americans discuss culture and politics over dinner in one long scene, and this makes their face-to-face encounter during the final battle all the more moving. Finally, there's Marino Mase ("The Five Man Army") as Lt. Tomassini, who commands the Italian garrison and will stop at nothing to escape with the survivors and liberate what's rightfully his. Add to this long list some excellent small roles filled by Ivano Stacciolo, Pier Paolo Capponi, Heinz Reincke and Romano Puppo. Crispino's focus is on the action, and makes the characters just believable enough to appreciate the big, explosive proceedings. The American takeover of the Italian garrison is excellently shot and finely edited, and the climactic tank battle in the oasis is purely awesome. It's filled with great shots of people getting shot, tanks exploding, bullets kicking up puffs of dirt – there are some shots with action going on in both the background and foreground, making for interesting composition. The movie has a very realistic look and feel to it, as well. The Americans and Germans are appropriately armed and clad for the time period. The sweltering sun and dry desert are completely convincing. The oasis set is massive and Crispino makes use of every part of it. The interiors, particularly the big dining room, are well-captured with wide shots and pans. At night, the set is well-lit and the action is completely clear. "Commandos" is a well-written, well-shot and action-packed war drama with a fine supporting cast and some nail-biting combat sequences, which put it a notch above many other Italian war productions in the same vein.”   


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII: THE NAVY WAY
1947; B&W; 74 Mins.


Director: William Berke

Cast:  Robert Lowery, Jean Parker, William Henry, Roscoe Karns, Sharon Douglas, Robert Armstrong, Tom Keene, Larry Nunn, Mary Treen, Wallace Pindell,  John 'Skins' Miller, Joseph Crehan, Hjalmar F. Hanson, Art Lasky,
John J. 'Red' Madigan.  


IMDb Storyline: “The experiences of a disparate group of young men as they make their way through Navy boot camp.”


IMDb Review: “This is a flag-waving programmer about the lives of boots at the Great Lakes Training Facilities during World War II. It manages to cover all the bases without doing much wrong. This Pine-Thomas feature -- they were known as "Dollar Bills" because of their ability to squeeze out a decent flick on a tight budget -- manages to have a few interesting bits despite a lack of top-notch talent. The central story, about turning around an unwilling draftee Robert Lowery, who is more interested in winning a boxing championship than the War, and his romance with gorgeous WAVE Jean Parker is a bit subpar, but a fine supporting cast including a humorous ex-shoe clerk Roscoe Karns, cowboy Tom Keene whose son has already died in the war and and Robert Armstrong as their instructor manages to keep things humming along.”
        
MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE STEEL CLAW 
1961; Color; 96 Mins.


Director:  George Montgomery

Cast: George Montgomery, Charito Luna, Mario Barri, Paul Sorensen, Amelia De La Rama, Carmen Austin, Ben Perez, John MacGloan, Joe Sison, Pedro     Faustino, Oscar Keesee, Al Wyatt Sr.


IMDb Storyline: “A Marine stationed in the Philippines loses a hand in an accident and is discharged from the Corps. When the Japanese invade the Philippines, he is called back into service to rescue a general held by Filipino guerrillas behind Japanese lines. Attaching a steel prosthetic in place of his missing hand, he and his men set out on the mission, which turns out to be not quite what he was told it was.”


IMDb Review: “George Montgomery who starred in Huk which was the story of the Communist Hukbalahap rebels uprising a few years earlier returns to the Phillipines and not only stars, but directs The Steel Claw, a story from the very early days in the Pacific War. The location shooting aided somewhat, but this is a really bad film technically with terrible audio. I doubt we'll see a restoration of this either any time soon. The character Montgomery plays is a Marine captain and wouldn't you know it he's lost his right hand right before the attack on the Phillipines. He's spent a lot of time in the Corps between the World Wars and managed not to see action, not Nicaragua, not Haiti, not China, apparently he was never sent where there was any fighting. We're not sure how he lost his arm, but it wasn't a purple heart injury. So Montgomery's going home by way of a PT Boat which has to pick up an army general who's been captured and they want to rescue lest he gives any military secrets. When the first plan doesn't work and the boat captain is killed, Montgomery says he's expendable and he goes off in the jungle looking for a Filipino resistance leader and former bandit to help. All of this is for Montgomery to prove something to himself. He accomplishes his mission. As for the general, well he's something else. Not likely to see a restoration or a remake.” 


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  SUBMARINE ALERT  
1943; B&W; 67 Mins.


Director: Frank McDonald

Cast:  Richard Arlen, Wendy Barrie, Nils Asther, Roger Pryor, Abner Biberman, Marc Lawrence, John Miljan, Patsy Nash, Ralph Sanford.  


IMDb Storyline: “Nazi spies use a stolen shortwave transmitter prototype to broadcast top secret shipping info to an offshore Japanese sub. To nab the spy ring, the Government has the West Coast's top radio engineers fired and shadowed to see if the Nazis recruit them to complete work on the prototype radio. Radio engineer Lew Deerhold, a resident alien without a job to pay for his adorable little ward Gina's life-saving operation, falls prey to the spy ring, and is swept up in a maelstrom of deceit and danger.”  


IMDb Review: “Well made and edited, this is a focused, no nonsense WWII spy movie that has a somewhat interesting technological foundation regarding radio transmission. Richard Arlen always had a wooden acting style but he is a bit less stiff than usual in this one and his capable action-star abilities are well used in the vigorous aspects of his role. Nils Asther, Marc Lawrence, Wendy Barrie and others provide solid performances and do excellent work. If you can ignore the final two minutes that are spliced on for propaganda purposes and concentrate on the film itself, you will be rewarded with a solid, surprisingly well made action/spy flick. Surprising especially since it was only a quickly conceived WWII studio effort that was a product of the Hollywood switch to war themes following the sudden outbreak of the war. While obviously quickly made, "Submarine Alert" lacks any sloppiness, unnecessary padding or other b- quality attributes in its acting or overall results. I consider my rating of "6" as being for the film itself, since it completely ends before the final add-on section.”


The titles which are currently available, are:


DOCUMENTARIES


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  PRELUDE TO WAR

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE NAZIS STRIKE

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  DIVIDE AND CONQUER

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE BATTLE OF RUSSIA

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:  THE BATTLE OF CHINA  

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   WAR COMES TO AMERICA 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   DECEMBER 7TH

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE TRUE GLORY

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   ARMY-NAVY SCREEN MAGAZINE

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE MEMPHIS BELLE and  HYMN OF THE              NATIONS

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE WORLD AT WAR

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:    AERIAL GUNNER

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE BATTLE OF EL ALEMEIN

​MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:    THUNDERBOLT 


FICTION ACTION/ADVENTURE DRAMAS


MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   GUNG HO!  
MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   IDENTITY UNKNOWN

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   COMMANDOS 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   GO FOR BROKE! 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   LADY FROM CHUNKING

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE NAVY WAY

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:   THE STEEL CLAW

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII:    SUBMARINE ALERT  

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII is a group of both fiction and documentary titles that relate to WWII.  Some of the dramas are listed on other pages as well.    The titles which have been released so far, are all available on Amazon.com, and over time will also be available from our eBay store; the links to each are:



 

MR. FAT-W GOES TO WWII DVDs