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Prelude to War

First in the series of seven Why We Fight films produced for the US War Dept by Lt Col Frank Capra, of the Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, Prelude to War, was originally intended for exclusive use in the Army's orientation courses. In piecing together the collection of clips - many of them released for the first time - giving the causes and events leading up to the present conflict, Capra has turned out a forceful, dramatic and ofttimes spectacular presentation.

First in the series of seven Why We Fight films produced for the US War Dept by Lt Col Frank Capra, of the Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, Prelude to War, was originally intended for exclusive use in the Army’s orientation courses. In piecing together the collection of clips – many of them released for the first time – giving the causes and events leading up to the present conflict, Capra has turned out a forceful, dramatic and ofttimes spectacular presentation.

It’s a triumph for Capra and those associated with him in the production of the film and is singularly outstanding for the War Dept’s courage in placing great stress on this country’s fatal error – of being lulled into a false sense of security by two oceans when the aggressor nations, as far back as 1931, were on the march.

Throughout Capra uses the technique of comparing the men and ideals of a free world and those of the slave world. As the US was sinking its ships in a futile attempt to cement peace after the last war, the aggressor nations, with their inbred love of regimentation and discipline, were preparing to strike anew with newer and more powerful war machines and campaign of lies.

Particularly stirring is a marching sequence showing how, almost from infancy, the youth of Germany, Italy and Japan were being trained, drilled and regimented.

Prelude to War

Production: US War Department. Director Frank Capra

Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 53 MIN.

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