December 7, 1941 (film #2 on Cinemocracy. Also, film #1 on disc #2 of Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941 DVD (Madacy Entertainment, 2001)). Also, film #2 of Side A of Disc #10 of War Classics DVD Mega-Pack (TreeLine Films, 2004). Also, film #1 on Side A of Disc #2 of WWII: The Ultimate Collection DVD Boxed Set (Brentwood Home Video, 2004)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Directed by John Ford, this retelling of the events of December 7, 1941 is a masterful piece of propaganda, stirring the emotions without straying too far from the truth. The scenes of devastation in the aftermath of the attack are particularly tragic. Surprising is the scene where Ford has several of the slain GIs "speak" to us––the ones he picks are of several different races and ethnic backgrounds. They are all narrated by the same person and the question is asked why they all sound alike. The answer: "We are all Americans." This little piece of tolerance for diversity was way ahead of its time, though it is somewhat offset by the stereotyped "Jap" voice Tojo is given in a later scene. Another amazing sequence is that of the changes made in the civilian lives of Hawaiians in the aftermath of the attack. We see schoolchildren ducking down in foxholes and trying on gas masks, and it reminds us that Hawaii was the one piece of U.S. territory to actually see combat. Most interesting is a sequence where we see Japanese-Americans in Hawaii removing all traces of Japanese culture from their homes and businesses––the most striking being the guy who takes down the sign "Banzai Cafe" and replaces it with "Keep 'Em Flying Cafe" (I want both signs, of course, for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices). The ironic thing about this, though, is the fact that Hawaii was the only place in the U.S. where Japanese-Americans were allowed to keep their homes and businesses, rather than be shuffled off to internment camps. One thing that increases the historical interest of this film is the fact that some scenes had portions of the frame blacked out by the censor. This is an essential piece of WWII propaganda.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.

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