The Battle of Midway (1942)
and December 7th (1943)
Friday, February 8, 2019
163 High St., Belfast, Maine
“John Ford served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and worked for the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services) as Chief of the Field and Photographic Branch. During this time, he undertook various missions for the Navy, and was involved in the production of training films and war documentaries, one of which was The Battle of Midway. The battle itself took place in the Central Pacific from June 4 to June 6 1942, and Ford was present as the Japanese attacked the American outpost on Midway Island. ‘This is the actual photographic report of the Battle of Midway’ declares the film’s opening titles. The Battle of Midway chronicles a significant moment in U.S. History, as have other Ford films like Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and My Darling Clementine (1946), but the focus here is on ordinary Americans filmed at the time, not famous historical figures seen in retrospect.” - Martin Bamber, Senses of Cinema.
“One of Ford's most famous efforts, December 7th, won a Best Documentary Short Subjects Academy Award in 1943. It was difficult if not altogether impossible to see in its original form for nearly half a century. It's not hard to see why the War Department had second thoughts when they saw the completed December 7th. The movie is anything but conventional war-time propaganda.” - Gary Johnson, Images Journal. “Adm. Harold Stark, the chief of naval operations at the time, wrote the lines that put "December 7th" in storage: "This picture leaves the distinct impression that the Navy was not on the job, and this is not true." Later, the film was pared down to 20 minutes of battle scenes and presented as patriotic testament to the courage of the men who endured the surprise onslaught” - Mark Chalon Smith, Los Angeles Times.