'Mr. Capra Goes to War: Frank Capra's World War II Documentaries' Blu-ray and DVD: Acclaimed Director Tells GIs Why We Fight
The Olive Films separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Mr. Capra Goes to War: Frank Capra's World War II Documentaries" make November 6, 2018 a date that will live in infinite joy. These beautifully remastered "Why We Fight" films that include entertaining in-depth insights by film historian and Capra biographer Joseph McBride are equally entertaining and educational. Watch your back, Maltin.
"Capra' stands very well on its own and is a PERFECT companion to the (reviewed) Olive release "Let There Be Light." Light" features the contributions of equally legendary film director John Huston to the war effort.
The McBride-hosted half-hour special feature "Frank Capra: Why We Fight" is must-see to fully understand and enjoy the propaganda-laden documentaries that comprise the bulk of this collection. We learn about the military service of Capra and the ways in which his public image is inaccurate. We further see how he comes to work for Uncle Sam and manages to produce films for a small fraction of the cost of his Hollywood productions.
McBride shares additional film-specific information in his introductions to each film; this context is just as fascinating as "Fight."
"Prelude to War" focuses on the event leading to WWII and on explaining the importance of red-blooded American boys joining the fight. A nice aspect of "Prelude" is that it does not dumb-down the material; the only animation is Disney-produced footage that illustrates (no pun intended) the incursion of Axis forces into other countries.
The scope of this one encompasses a discussion of WWI and the resulting international pact prohibiting waging war to settle dispute. This includes showing America reducing its military resources in reliance on that agreement,
The introduction to the two-part "The Battle of Russia" is especially interesting. McBride reminds us of the basis for the U.S.-Soviet alliance and tells us that Russia supplies Capra all of the footage for the film. That source material perfectly reflects Soviet propaganda.
The main theme this time is that the Nazis can be stopped from advancing and can actually be driven back. We also see a favored Nazi tactic used against the Germans. The symbolic value of Moscow is another theme.
It is indisputable that the propaganda level in this one is particularly strong. We see the vast resources of Mother Russia and her happy people working in the fields and the factories. We also hear about their heroic natures. The gruesome footage of dead German soldiers is less appealing.
McBride further shares that the purpose of "The Negro Soldier" extends beyond encouraging black men to join the fight. This film also is intended to have white soldiers feel proper regard for the black brothers-in-arms.
A "and the rest" film is "Tunisian Victory about the joint American and British effort in North Africa. The last but not least has Capra and Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) team up to help maintain the moral of folks who remain in Germany as occupiers after the war.
Watching these films both greatly expands an understanding of Capra and demonstrates the nature of propaganda. A perfect example of this "Soldier" omitting inconvenient truths. Chances to watch these films is rare enough; watching them accompanied by the comments of McBride is a unique opportunity that should not be squandered.