Film: 8963

War + Military | 1960 | Sound | B/W


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Educational documentary series upon the origins and course of the Second World War analysed in the 1960's

Opening title sequence. Commentary begins, accompanying a reverse tracking shot of far eastern war refugees. A map of Europe with a spreading black mark, expanding out from Germany, illustrating the extent of Hitler's Third Reich and when the war was at its most bleak for the Allies by the beginning of 1942. Another map detailing the Pacific theatre, with a spreading black circle to show the extent of the Japanese sphere of control. Montage sequence of a roaring furnace; men shouldering shell cases; the movement of shells en masse in a factory; molten metal being poured into a cast; an aircraft engine being lifted into place; a parade of recruits during physical exercise training which is illustrating the build up of America into a massive and inexhaustible arsenal.

The Pacific Ocean. A long shot, interspersed with some close ups, of American battleships firing their long range guns into the sky. A tracking shot of a flight deck from the conning tower of an aircraft carrier. An American fighter plane, possibly a Grumman F4F - 3 Wildcat, taking off left to right. Introduction to the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first engagement in naval history in which no ships fired upon each other; solely a battle between aircraft carriers and their war planes. Both America and Japan, suffer heavy losses and material damage, but the planned Japanese invasion of New Guinea is cancelled. Aerial shot following bombs falling on already hit and damaged warship. Successive side on shot of indistinct American fighter dropping its bomb load. Battle cruiser ablaze on the high seas. Fade to black.

The Battle of Midway, one month later, June 4th - 6th 1942. Shot of two men aboard a US vessel watching a presumably Japanese fighter plane being shot down and go screaming into the sea - right to left - with left wing shattered away and trail of flames and thick black smoke on account of ignited fuel. Possibility of this being a kamikaze pilot. Anti-aircraft gun, close up of, and camera follows flak and tracer shells firing into sky at a second plane. In flight shot of unidentifiable ship exploding and a long shot of another battleship sinking and ablaze. Heavy black smoke and a vessel listing. Real news footage - very good. Midway was tense and vicious, it being solely decided by the opposing aircraft crews and being a key turning point during the Pacific war. Fade to black, as commentary talks of the halting of the Japanese advance. Midway was of paramount importance.

Documentary in field footage of the Australian army checking the Japanese movements in jungles of New Guinea. Soldiers on manoeuvres through dense undergrowth, quagmires, heavy thick mud and uncompromising jungle. Close up of a soldier in short sleeve shirt and shorts, firing a Bren-gun. Machine-gun emplacement, troops crouching through jungle forests. One is using a flame thrower, with next shot of enemy soldier on fire. Close up of injured and dazed, possibly feverish, soldier being helped along muddy road by comrade is illustrative of the rigours of jungle warfare. Fade to black.

Further real footage of the demands of jungle warfare. American soldiers mopping up and clearing through an enemy that the commentary says was '.. Cunning, tenacious and often fought to the last.' Shots of strategically vital airfield being levelled and prepared by the American forces. Fade to black.

Film moves onto the North Africa campaign. Map of the Mediterranean, Libya and Egypt. An arrow with a swastika is moved from the left and strikes towards Egypt. Side on close up of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, with two commanders. Excellent footage. Rommel is laughing and joking, apparently relaxed in a major war situation. Aerial close up of a United States Air Force Martin 167 dropping its payload on unclear target, presumably the German supply lines. Successive long shot of RN battleship firing its guns, presumably in the Mediterranean; long shot of an assumed German supply ship ablaze; shown to illustrate the impact of the Allied air forces and RN in frustrating and containing Rommel's supplies lines. Three tanks in line speeding through desert, with far too precisely placed explosions, as long shot becomes a receding tracking shot, left to right. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery is being heavily re-enforced - arguably staged for the home cinemas and morale. Long shot of Monty, studying positions through binoculars.

Long shot of British field gun battery gun firing and recoiling. Successive sequence of shots of further batteries opening up along a huge front heralds the start of the battle. The camera impressively captures the sheer power of such an onslaught. A series of shots the German North Afrika Corps in full retreat, British 8th Army soldiers advancing through sand dust, Italian prisoners. The commentary says Churchill's words of reflection on the desert campaign,

'It may almost be said that before El Alamein we never had a victory, after El Alamein we never had a defeat.'

Further shots of the British army following hard on the heels of the Axis forces, with close ups of German dead. Again staged; bodies are in too natural and forced positions.

Long shots of US troops during their amphibious beach landings for Operation Torch of November 7th 1942. Authentic footage shows troops running ashore, head on frontal shots demonstrating the new and untried difficulties of beach head assaults. Two fighter planes giving low flying protection over Allied jeeps. Repeat of map of North Africa, with arrow showing General Dwight D. Eisenhower's advance eastward to Tunisia to trap Rommel between himself and Monty advancing westward from Alamein. Staged show of firepower and exploding tank 'target'; lack of continuity and hence disjointed.

Shot of the two Allied commanders meeting. Scenes of celebration of a decisive victory. Tommy and Yank soldiers exchanging helmets, jokes and cigarettes; a visible mood of optimism. Shot of Roosevelt and Churchill at the Casablanca Conference agreeing that they would only accept total unconditional surrender from the Axis Powers. Fade to black.

Russia autumn 1942. The commentary recalls the words of Stalin to his troops, 'There is only one road; the road that leads forward… Stalingrad will be saved by you or wiped out with you.', as footage shows Russian scurrying over rubble and a devastated urban landscape.

A two to three minute sequence charting the later stages of the Battle of Stalingrad and the Russian counter-offensive and advance. Curiously it begins with a long shot of a German mobile 88mm anti-tank gun and close up of a burning Panzer tank. Series of graphic images and coverage of house to house, street to street fighting that signified the struggle for Stalingrad. Close ups of Russian snipers and their German targets being hit and killed. Chaos, fires and mayhem all portrayed as the city is reduced to '…a monstrous graveyard of shattered buildings, shaking walls and rotting flesh.' Not staged.

Shots of the arrival of another Russian winter and German troops, snow bound and camouflaged, labouring in freezing conditions of minus 40 and fierce blizzards. The deadly cold is captured in bleak images of dead soldiers lying in grotesque positions. Most of these are of German troops, who equipped only for a summer and autumn campaign, have been trapped by the terrible Russian cold.

Real footage of Russian rocket missiles being fired in vast numbers of salvoes, at dusk. Long shots of Russian troops advancing from trenches followed by close ups of degenerate German and Romanian troops after capture by the Russians.

Map of Mediterranean and the Italian Southern Peninsula and centre. Actual news footage of the beach landings at Anzio. Close up of single long range gun firing and recoiling and a bombardment from the sea. British Eighth Army advancing over coastal terrain. Film moves to a horizontal long shot of Junkers Ju 52 transport plane landing, to be greeted by Hitler. Unknown Italian delegate steps out of aircraft and the commentary talks of the Italian surrender and withdrawal from the war. Hitler and delegate shaking hands, smiling for the press and cameras.

Rear view of American troops as they clear through a town house by house, street by street. Close up of American troops, with a T34 tank in background, at rest. Shots of life in the field and the hardships of battle. Close ups of soldiers exhausted, bored, diseased and eating bad rations. US troop trucks on a road washed away by autumn rains. Further shots of trucks and assorted military hardware negotiating treacherous terrain in harsh winter conditions. Head on long shot of a truck jack-knifing and sliding at right angles down an ice-bound frozen road. Excellent footage.

Aerial shots of Blenheim bombers over Monte Cassino. They begin to drop their payload. Long shots of Monte Cassino, a centuries old Benedictine monastery, being levelled by allied bombing. German troops surrendering, with the Allies painfully mopping up and advancing through the now devastated city. Close up of prisoners of war, followed by rejoicing Italian civilians, as on June 4th 1944, the Allied troops enter Rome. Shots of columns of US troops marching through the celebrating crowds. Fade to black.

Head on shot of Avro Lancaster bomber taking on its bomb load; frenzied activity, a pilot signalling readiness to go. Tracking shot, left to right of a Stirling taking off. Night shots of a raid with target marker flares clearly visible. The Americans continue with high level precision bombing by daylight but costs are high. Shots of German Luftwaffe fighters destroying various USAF bombers including a Superfortress. The RAF pursue with night time bombing; shots from certain raids as the whole aerial campaign is continued round the clock. Target marker flares clearly visible. Fade to black.

Close up of Eisenhower and Monty at table with commanders, with a vast map of Europe behind them discussing the planning of D-Day. Sequence of shots of the German coastal defences along Northern France. Footage of German troops marching through dunes and coastal fortifications. Unidentifiable scenery along French coast, revealing potentially impregnable defences. Close up of Eisenhower talking animatedly with unknown naval staff. Shots of the largest flotilla in naval history out in the channel. Footage of the opening naval barrage to 'soften up' the Germans. Shots of German retaliation.

Images of British troops landing at Sword or Gold beaches, US marines at Omaha and Utah. Within twenty four hours 250,000 allied soldiers are on French soil. The images included in this sequence, especially of troops struggling to make the beaches through the sea wash are reminiscent of the wartime photographs of Frank Capra. More street to street and house to house fighting; scenes of intense and costly battle. Another map, this time of the Normandy Peninsula and the hinterland, shows the spreading arrows that denote the advance of the American troops; Carentan, St.Lo, Bayeux, Caen. Pictures of the total collapse of the German defences and shots of German P.O.Ws.

An aerial circling shot of the Arc de Triomphe, crowds rejoicing and thousands of US troops marching past and parading down the Champs Elysees, depicting the day of the Liberation of Paris, 25th August 1944. Fade to black.

A Russian tank train snaking its way across the vast plateaux to keep up with the troops rapidly moving through eastern Europe. Shots of Russian gunners loading and firing their guns in a massive frontal assault; it is the Russian summer offensive, Operation Bagration, launched on the third anniversary of Hitler's 1941 invasion of Russia. The commentary states that this is the move that will rid Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary of the Germans. Coverage of a night battle, with the launching of hundreds of rocket missiles and half tone sequences of Russian troops advancing through rubble and destruction. Roosevelt and Molotov at Yalta. Famous close up of the big three, all seated for the cameras; Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. All are attended by their Foreign Secretaries who stand directly behind them. Anthony Eden, James Francis Byrnes and Molotov. Move to inside scenes and all three protagonists sitting at an oval conference table discussing the future of Europe. Fade to black.

American tank and troops moving left to right through crowded French streets, relentlessly advancing towards Germany. Camera follows a troop detachment across the Rhine. Also a vast column of more US troops marching through a bombed out town or city, rubble and mass destruction all around. Aerial long shot of another unidentified but decimated town - this powerful image is held for some seconds. Fade to black.

US troops and hardware on the move left to right across screen. Moves onto the first meeting between American and Russian forces. Close up of possibly Generals Paton and Zhukov shaking hands and smiling into the camera. A US soldier with two Russian soldiers, and an overhead shot of both groups drinking and celebrating. There is dancing and an accordion player. Move to panning shot through a European valley of hundreds of thousands of enemy P.O.Ws. Fade to black.

Montgomery sitting at military field table, receiving the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces. Long shot of Field Marshal Keitel, Grand Admiral Von Friedeburg and General Stumpf, in the Berlin headquarters of the Russian army, to sign the surrender of the Eastern forces. Shot Keitel sitting at a table, reading and being instructed on what to do; Keitel signing. Long shot of the stone carved Swastika on top of the Nuremburg Stadia, built by Albert Speer. A baton of explosives lies across it. Close up of same. It is blown up. Two to three minutes montage coverage of the atrocities in the concentration camps.. American officers and men, all battle hardened are visibly shaken at what they find. German civilians, on an enforced visit of de-nazification by the Allies, leaving a gas chamber. A group of US soldiers shoot open a set of metal gates. A separate shot shows hundreds of varying P.O.Ws being released, with two or three Yankee liberators being thrown into the air in celebration. A church bell swings in a tower. The war in Europe is finally over. Fade to black.

Another map of the Pacific region with a white outer cordon ring thrown around it illustrating the extreme edge of Japanese influence. Animated arrow heads on map piercing at weaker points - New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands. Footage of naval bombardments, troops landing and deploying, jungle warfare. Long shot of an American detachment burning Japanese troops out with flame throwers. Shots of jungle rains and mud. Repeat image of the previous map showing that the outer cordon is broken, leaving an inner ring of the Marianas and Philippines. Long shot of General MacArthur walking ashore from an assault landing craft. Probably staged.

Concise footage of the closing stages of the Burma campaign, showing the Allied forces under General William Slim as they halt the Japanese advance on Delhi. Fade to black.

Close up of the Enola Gay, immediately followed by film of an atomic explosion; possibly the test at Bikini Atoll but not the actual Hiroshima bomb. An aerial panning shot of Hiroshima after the bomb. Utter devastation, but commentary says that the two bombs together added to lessening the overall final death toll if the Americans had undertaken a full scale invasion of Japan. Modern warfare has entered upon a new and wholly different and destructive episode.

Side on long shot of General MacArthur on the deck of the USS Missouri, having taken the Japanese surrender. He says,

'The issues involving divergent ideas and ideologies have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion and debate.'

Close up of the Japanese delegation signing the surrender aboard the Missouri. Shot to mainland America and a single figure of a man skipping, possibly down Wall Street, amongst a mass of ticker tape.

Allied Victory closes with a montage of shots of the surviving casualties of war, the non combatants. Refugees, displaced, orphaned, hungry, trying to return home. The commentary concludes that the war may have resolved a burgeoning ideological problem, but it also threw up a myriad of new ones, all of its own creation.

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