tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN December 31, 2014 1:59pm-4:01pm EST
from you. follow us on twitter at c-span history. connect with us on facebook at facebook.com/c span history where you can leave comments as well. and check out our upcoming brocks at our website, c ban is. c-span.org/history.programs at our website, c-span.org/history. >> we complement the coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearings and public events. on weekends, c-span3 is the home to american history tv with programs that tell our nation's story, including six unique series. the civil war's 150th anniversary, visiting battle fields and key events, american artifacts, touring museums and historic sites to discover what artifacts reveal about america's past. history bookshelf, the best known american history writes. the presidency looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief.
lectures in history, with top college professor developing into america's past. and our new series, real america, featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930s through the '70s. c-span3, created by the cable tv industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. during this holiday season we are showing you american history programs. today, we are focusing on our series, reel america. next, the first of two profiles of american film directors and the second world war. we will start with a look at frank capra's work and focus on george stevens. later, it's director john ford and his movie "the battle of midway." each week, american history tv's "reel america" brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. in the first of a five-part look
at hollywood directors who made films for the u.s. government during world war ii we feature frank capra who made and supervised dozens of films during the war, including the "why we fight" series. up next the 14-minute "your job in jer man withny" a training film for troops occupying the defeated nation. later, we will show you a four-minute animated private snafu film. but first, we at a you can to journalist and historian, mark harris. >> the book is titled "five game back" a story of hollywood and the second world war. and joining us from new york on american history tv is author mark harris. thanks very much for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> as you put together this book and we will see films from well-known director, how much did you know before you researched the topic? >> well, my training as a film writer and film historian, not as a war historian so for me,
what i was investigating was the gap in the resumes of these five directors. you know, i would look and see that george stevens made no hollywood movies between 1943 and 1948 or whiler between 42 and 47 and that got me curious about their war service, which is the part of their life that we on the film side of things often ignore. and what it meant to them and what kind of work they did in the war. >> bank capra probably best known for mr. smith goes to washington and it's a wonderful life, but he was also asked to put these films together by general marshall. my question is why did george marshall go to directors like tank capra and not have the military produce them? >> it's a really interesting counterintuitive moment. marshall didn't have the military produce them because he knew and most of the war department top brass knew that military movies had been terrible. many of them were in use since
the late 1920s and they were just really clumsily made on a filmmaking and communication level. there is still the question of why he didn't turn to the bay what of newsreels non-fiction films, to document the entire war effort and instead looked to hollywood and creators of fiction and i think it's because marshall really understood the power of narrative film. he had seen its effect during the great depression when, you know, i think his movies were shown often on the sides of trucks to people in the wpa. he understood that movies could really rouse patriot ismism and fervor in people and he understood hollywood directors were better at doing that certainly than army filmmakers an better than newsreelmakers. >> america formally entering
world war ii in december of 1941, but what was frank capra doing prior to that? >> >> capra was the most successful and certainly the best compensated director in hollied would. he was on the cover of "time" magazine with the headline "columbia's gem" because he was considered the director to single hand lid turned columbia pictures, then a smaller studio into a major force. he had won three academy awards forring in 1934, '36 and '38 and then followed up those three oscars with mr. smith goes to washington. so, he was you know, at an extraordinary peak of achievement and is of reputation before the war broke out. >> interestingly, as an italian immigrant, the u.s. was fighting his home country with mussolini in alliance with hitler's germany, correct?
>> yes capra his family was sicilian and emgreated to america when capra was a very, very small boy, so he really had no particularly deep memories of living anywhere other than america but acutely conscious that his status as an immigrant diminished him in the eyes of many americans who were suspicious of foreigners and that can sound sort of paranoid or oversensitive but if you look at some of the stories britain about cap practice the height of his success, in places like the saturday evening post it was not uncommon for writers to sort of compare him to an italian green grocer. stereotypes were in full force then and were deployed in a pretty ugly way. cap practice, his war work central to the war filmmaking effort was, in large part about articulating his patriotism
about asserting his identity as an american. >> let me ask you about two of his bodies of work first the seven-part series of "why we fight." what was behind that? >> well, "why we fight" was the first assignment that marshall gave capra when he was trying to induce him to come and join the effort. cap practice, like all director, was old enough to have gotten an exemption from service and the importance of his civilian work would have gotten him an exemption, even if his able had not. marshall's impetus in suggesting the "why we fight" series was replace the very dry, very dull lectures that incoming gis were being given at the ages of 18 or 19 or 20 about what the war was about, what the history in japan and europe had been since the early 1930s and why we were
fighting. and cap are a was asked to make a series of move says there would explain that the interesting thing was the war department never quite got around to telling cap rah their version of why we fight. so the answer to the question, why are we fighting was really created by capra and his team of screenwriters rather than articulate $as an extension of war department policy. it was a hollywood film make they're gave gis the answer to that question. >> as you look through the films, where did the footage come from? what were its sources? >> this was a necessity of the mother of invention. capra was asked to make the movies, $450,000 to make 50 movies. certainly, he didn't have the budget to shoot film, so he
after seeing lenny reefen stall's prop dan da film "triumph of the will" in new york, he came up with the idea that all of the access prom began da filmmaking the film from jer man withny and italy and japan that had been confiscated by the treasury department could be incorporated into these "why we fight" above advice. and in a way, the enemy's propaganda could be turned against them. and between that and his very innovative idea to have animation in the movies, you know, animated maps showing, you know, black ink spilling across europe or a crab-like pincers or octopus tentacles reaching in to grab other countries those were two innovative ways to get around the fact he didn't have
the money to film, for instance, battle scenes. >> in just a moment c-span viewers will get a chance to see another one of capra's movies. >> this is a 14-minute documentary titled "your job in germany." mark harris, who was the audience? >> the audience for "your job in germany" was the group of soldiers who were stationed in germany after we won, the occupying forces. this was essentially a training film for them to tell them how to deal with and how not to deal with the german people who had been defeated. and as you'll see, it contains some very, very tough material and unsentimental instructions in that regard. >> you spent a lot of time researching this for your book, "five came back." what surprised you the most about director frank capra?
>> capra's politics were very complicated. they were impossible to track through his entertainment movies. everybody sort of sees him because of the popularity of films like "mr. smith goes to washington" as a great populace, a man of the people. he was actually a conservative republican who boasted that he never voted for fdr in any of his four presidential elections and he thought he was being overtaxed by the government and he really disliked unions. so his politics were kind of all over the place. at one point he was really infatuated with mussolini. doing this book made me realize war crystallized his politics in to patriotism. it was the time in his life when i think capra was actually the clearest about what he felt about america and when his patriotism really overrode any political leanings he might have.
>> the problem now is future peace. that is your job in germany. by your conduct and attitude while on guard inside germany, you can lay the groundwork of a peace that can last forever, or just the opposite. you could lay the groundwork for a new war to come. and just as american soldiers had to do this job 26 years ago, so other american soldiers, your sons, might have to do it again another 20 odd years from now. germany today appears to be beaten. hitler, out. swastikas, gone. nazi propaga concentration camps, empty. you'll see ruins. you'll see flowers.
you'll see some mighty pretty scenery. don't let it fool you. you are in enemy country. be alert. suspicious of everyone. take no chances. you are up against something more than tourist scenery. you are up against german history. it isn't good. this book was written chapter by chapter, not by one man, not by one furor. it was written by the german people. chapter one, the furor, bismarck. the title "blood and iron." the armies, germany. under the prussian bismarck, the german empire was built. the german states combined, serving notice to all that their religion was iron. that their god was blood. bismarck's german empire built itself by war at the expense of denmark, austria and france.
and became in 1871 the mightiest military power in all europe. enough conquest for a while. time out to digest it. europe relaxes. the danger's over. nice country, germany. tender people, the germans. and very sweet music, indeed. ♪ chapter two, a new furor, kaiser wilhelm. new title, germany overall. and the same tender german people smacked us with their world war i against serbia. russia. france. belgium.
italy. britain. and the united states of america. it took all of us to do it. but we finally knocked that furor out. defeated the german armies. second chapter ended. we marched straight into germany and said, why these people are okay. it was just that kaiser we had to get rid of. you know, this is really some country. when it comes to culture, they lead the whole world. we bit. we poured in our sympathy. we pulled out our armies. and they flung chapter three in our faces. furor number three, slogan number three, today, germany is ours.
tomorrow, the whole world. and the tender repentant sorry german people carried the torch of their culture to austria, czechoslavkia, poland, france, england, norway, holland, denmark, belgium, luxembourg, russia, yugoslavia, greece and the united states of america. over the shattered homes, over the broken bodies of millions of people that let down their guard. we almost lost this one. it took everything we had.
measure the cost in money, there isn't that much money. measure the cost in lives. we can only guess at that figure. it took burning and scalding. drenching. freezing. it took legs. fingers. arms. and it took them by the millions. it cost hours, days and years that will never return. but it took our health, our wealth, our past and our future. it took every last ounce of our
courage and guts. now what happens? ♪ >> oh, hell this is where we came in. >> yeah. this is where we came in. >> and chapter four? >> could be -- it can happen again. the next war, that is why you occupy germany, to make that next war impossible. no easy job. in battle you kept your wits about you. don't relax that caution now. the nazi party may be gone, but nazi thinking, nazi training, and nazi trickery remain. the german lust for conquest is not dead. it's merely gone undercover. somewhere in this germany are the ss guards, the gestapo gangsters. out of uniform, you won't know
them, but they'll know you. somewhere in this germany are stormtroopers by the thousands. out of sight, part of the mob, but still watching you and hating you. somewhere in this germany, there are 2 million ex-nazi officials. out of power, but still in there. and thinking. thinking about next time. remember that only yesterday, every business, every profession was part of hitler's system. the doctors. technicians. clockmakers. postmen. farmers. housekeepers. toymakers. barbers. cooks. dock workers. practically every german was part of the nazi network. guard particularly against this group. these are the most dangerous german youth. children when the nazi party
came into power. they know no other system than the one that poisoned their minds. they are soaped in it. trained to win by cheating. trained to pick on the weak. they've heard no free speech. read no free press. they were brought up on straight propaganda, products of the worst educational crime in the entire history of the world. practically everything you believe in, they have been trained to hate and destroy. they believe they were born to be masters, that we are inferiors, designed to be their slaves. they may deny it now, but they believe it and will try to prove it again. don't argue with them. don't try to change their point of view. other allied representatives will concern themselves with that. you're not being sent into germany as educators.
you are soldiers on guard. you will observe their local laws. respect their customs and religion. and you will respect their property rights. you will not ridicule them. you will not argue with them. you will not be friendly. you will be aloof. watchful. and suspicious. every german is a potential source of trouble. therefore, there must be no fraternization with any of the german people. fraternization means making friends. the german people are not our friends. you will not associate with german men, women or children. you will not associate with them on familiar times, either in public or in private. you will not visit in their homes, nor will you ever take them into your confidence.
however friendly, however sorry, however sick of the nazi party they may seem, they cannot come back into the civilized fold just by sticking out their hand and saying, "i'm sorry." sorry? not sorry they caused the war. they are only sorry they lost it. that is the hand that heiled adolf hitler. that is the hand that dropped the bombs on defenseless rotterdam, brussels, belgrade. that is the hand that destroyed the cities, villages, and homes of russia. that is the hand that held the whip over the polish, yugoslav, french and norwegian slaves. that is the hand that took their food. that is the hand that starved
them. that is the hand that murdered, massacred greek, czechs, jews. that is the hand that killed and crippled american soldiers, sailor, marines. don't clasp that hand. it's not the kind of a hand you can clasp in friendship. >> but there are millions of germans. some of those guys must be okay. >> perhaps. but which ones? just one mistake may cost you your life. trust none of them. some day, the german people might be cured of their disease. the super race disease. the world conquest disease. but they must prove that they have been cured beyond the shadow of a doubt before they ever again are allowed to take their place among respectable nations. until that day, we stand guard. we are determined that their plan for world conquest shall stop here and now.
we are determined that they shall never again use peaceful industries for war-like purposes. we are determined that our children shall never face this german terror. we are determined that the vicious german cycle of war, phoney peace, war, phoney peace, war, phoney peace shall once and for all time come to an end. that is your job in germany. >> the film, "your job in germany" from 1945, director frank capra. and joining us from new york is
author mark harris, who has been researching this topic. put the timing of this film, 1945, and the audience into perspective, if you would. >> well, "your job in germany" was a post-war film made to be shown not to general audiences but to soldiers. they were the "you" in the title, "your job in germany" occupying forces in post-war germany who were trying to deal with a recently defeated german populace, and movie was largely written by theodore geisel, we know better as dr. seuss, who at the time that frank capra recruited him for army work was a left-wing editorial cartoonist in new york. he was strongly anti-german and "your job in germany" is the product of a dispute that was really prevalent within the war department as the war neared its end.
not just for germany but for japan as well. there was a question of how much should the civilian population, as opposed to the military leaders or the emperor of japan or hitler in germany, be blamed for what happened, and concurrently, how much reconciliation with ordinary germans should there be after the war? geisel was very much of the belief that the german people were -- should shoulder a large portion of the blame. and capra was in agreement with that. he was very strident about the idea that there was something in the german character that made them worship these supermen, these ideal leaders, and that
there was a great danger in trusting or befriending or reaching out to or even forgiving the rank-and-file of just german citizenry. so "your job in germany" reflects that very, very tough tone, saying to american soldiers, these people aren't your friends, don't trust them, don't be cruel to them and don't be abusive to them, but don't extend your hand in friendship, don't socialize with them, don't go to their houses. >> one quick followup because your points really came through in the film, providing the audience at the time some historical perspective on germany's role throughout europe. and certainly by today's standard, it wasn't politically correct. >> oh, absolutely not.
i mean, you know, there was real belief that -- there was a real belief in enemies at the end of world war ii. you know, there was a film made under capra's authority about japan, sort of the equivalent of "your job in germany" about japan, a film that evolved from a movie called "know your enemy japan" that was deemed so brutal and so incendiary when it arrived in japan after hiroshima and nagasaki, macarthur refused to show the movie. rev' -- we've already made about the point. we don't need to do it in a movie. >> mark harris, while we're talking about frank capra, i want to ask you about "private snafu." 26 cartoons, we should point out, not designed for children. what's the story behind it? >> right.
they weren't designed for children and not designed for adults either. these were adult-only cartoons that were meant to be shown to servicemen. and they were technically instructional films. in private snafu who is this kind of screw-up private, as you'll see he looks a lot like elmer fudd, because he derives from early drawings of elmer fudd. he was meant to give soldiers instructions on everything from the danger of consorting with prostitutes in foreign countries to how to protect yourself against malaria, to the importance of not gossiping or passing along secrets. and usually these five minute movies, many of which were also by the way written by the theodore geisel, and sound like
dr. seuss material, like "the grinch stole christmas," usually the instruction was by negative example. private snafu would do something wrong and he ended up dead or being blown to bits in about a third of them only to come back in the next installment a couple of months later. >> mark harris, thanks very much. now from the u.s. army, titled "going home" as private snafu, used by the u.s. military. ♪ >> a soldier returns from the global grind. home is ahead. the front is behind. a soldier returns. his hometown is proud. look at that brass band. look at that crowd. our returning hero has, no doubt, a million things to talk about. safe at home, away from battle,
restricted stuff makes harmless prattle. >> our outfit's number 999. we hold the center of the line. the british hold the west. a pillbox here. machine gun this. 200 million tanks. >> now you got that off your chest, why not go out and blab the rest? >> a landing field. boy is that sweet. it measures 15,000 feet with nine new runways all concrete. those new jap tanks sure pack a punch. they knocked out battery b. if they start to push, they will shove to us the sea. >> flashing to you, the news of the day. a new secret weapon did this to the foe. what hit you, joe? wouldn't you like to know?gñp >> i know what did it, what made the big hole. a new flying bazooka with radar control. i know all about it.
i was the right there. i seen it with my own eyes. the propelling charge is attached and the booster adapter sets off the fuse. therefore, giving it power to the spark plugs. our very next mode, this is straight from the boss. [ slurring words ] naturally, it concerns not only about what we have indubitably, but speaking of convoys, you know, when i sailed with the 999th, a single ship, why the tanks we saw, the places we went. now this is strictly confidential. and you'll treat it so, i hope. but strictly confidentially here's the latest. coming in at 74 degrees, we
placed our guns -- >> might just as well write it all over the sky. ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, the war department regrets to announce that due to recent leaks and restricted military information, our entire 999th division has been annihilated by the enemy. >> the 999th? my own outfit. some guy shot his mouth off. any jerk who does that ought to be run over by a streetcar. ♪ and joining us from new york is author mark harris. his book is titled "five came
back: a story of hollywood and the second world war." as we conclude our discussion on director frank capra, how did world war ii and post-war years change this director? >> well, of all five of the directors i write about, capra was the one who expected to come back, i think, and have the best career in hollywood after the war and instead he had the worst. he came back and founded a company with two of the other directors i write about, william weiler and george stevens called liberty films. this was in a way one of the first independent movie companies that was meant to get powerful directors out from under the oppressive restrictions of movie studios and give them some autonomy over what material they chose and how it was made and even how it was budgeted. originally, the plan was for each of the three directors to
make three movies, but the company never got past the first movie, which was capra's film, "it's a wonderful life." although we now consider that movie, you know, a perennial holiday classic. "it's a wonderful life" was not a financial success when it came out. it was not a particularly popular movie. it was overshadowed by "the best years of our lives," which came out the same year, and it bankrupted the company. capra was so shattered by that failure and by the loss of liberty films that his insecurities about having lost his status in hollywood and his unerring instinct for what would work for audiences really overcame him. he only made about five more movies for the rest of his career, and none of them were successful. his career, as we know it, was essentially over after 1946 when "it's a wonderful life" was released. >> mark harris joining us from
new york. his book "five came back, a story of hollywood and the second world war." thanks for being with us here on c-span 3's american history tv. >> you have been watching a special presentation of our reel america series. join us at 4 p.m. eastern for more films by archival governments, and military institution. watch as they take you on a journey through the 20th century. again, that's reel america every sunday at 4 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. we would like to tell you about some of our other american history program.
the c-span cities tour takes book tv and american history tv on the road traveling to u.s. cities to learn about their history and literary life. thissed with, we partnered with time warner cable for a visit to austin texas. >> we are in the private suite of lyndon and lady byrd johnson by vat quarters gore the president and first lady. when i say private, i do mean that. this is not part of a tour that is offered to the public. this is -- this has never been opened to the public. you're seeing it because of c-span's special access. vips come into this space, just as they did in lyndon johnson's day but it's not open to our
visitors on daily basis. and the remarkable thing about this space is it's really a living, breathing artifact. it hasn't changed at all since president johnson died in january of 1973. and there's a document in the corner of this room signed by, among others, the then-archivist of the united states and lady byrd johnson telling by predecessors, myself and may successors that nothing in this room can change. >> so we are here at the 100 block of congress avenue in austin to my left just down the block, is the river, the colorado river and this is an important historic site in the city's history because this is where waterloo austin's bredders is was. waterloo consisted really just of a cluster of cabins that were occupy pied four or five families, including the family of jay carroll and i'm actually standing about the spot where the cabin was and this is where mira bow lamar was staying when
he and the rest of the men got wind of this big buffalo herd in thes have sent. so, lamar and the other men jumped on their horses congress avenue or wasn't really the avenue, in those days it was just a muddy ravine that led north to the hill where the capitol now sits and the many galloped on their horses. they had stuffed their belt full of pistols and rode into the midst of this herd of buffalo, firing and shouting you and lamar at 8th and congress, what became 8th and congress shot this enormous buffalo. and from there he went to the top of the hill where the capitol is and that's where he told everybody that this should you can the seat of the fwuch chur empire. >> watch all of our events from austin, saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2 on americanv history tv on c-span3.
each week, american history tv's reel america brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. in the second part of a five-part film, we feature george stevens, who was with the invading army 70 years ago on june 6th, 1944, to document d-day. stevens assisted in production the film "the true glory" which includes extensive d-day footage that documented the horrors of nazi concentration camps creating films that was used as evidence in the neuremberg trials. first we talk to mark harris. >> the book is titled, "five came back: a story of hollywood and the second world war" and one of the directors featured by author mark harris is george stevens.+++ddy
very good director, carol reed, who went on to make "the third man" and "oliver" and the u.s. had a good screen writer, a young soldier named paddy chayefsky, who worked on "the true glory" and then went on to movies, including "network."t stevens' job was to step in briefly to make sure that everything was going smoothly between the brits and the americans and that's what he did on "the true glory." >> this is a nearly 30 minute portion from that film. we'll begin with an introduction by general dwight eisenhower.- minute portion from that film. we'll begin with an introduction by general dwight eisenhower.minute portion from that film. we'll begin with an introduction by general dwight eisenhower. ♪ >> i have been asked to be the spokesman for this allied
expeditionary force in saying a word of introduction to what you're about to see. it's a story of the nazi defeat on the western front. so far as possible, the editors have made it an account of the really important men in this campaign. i mean the enlisted soldiers, sailors and airmen that fought through every obstacle to victory. course to tell the whole story would take years. but the theme would be the same. teamwork wins wars. i mean teamwork among nations, services and men. all the way down the line from the g.i. and the tommy to us brass hats. our enemy in this campaign was strong, resourceful and cunning, but he made a few mistakes. his greatest blunder was this, he thought he could break up our partnership. but we were welded together by fighting for one great cause.
in one great team, a team in which you were an indispensable and working member. that spirit of free people working, fighting and living served us well on the western front. we in the field pray that that spirit of comradeship will persist forever among the free peoples of the united nations. ♪ ♪ >> to you who now living in lop
for hope who sense a future in the surrounding air, this testament is offered. here you may look on the violent fragments of our age and the once thinness of the little thread that made us then the citizens of freedom. dark was europe and the face of man when this begins. a nation that had gone mad and struck out every where the compass knew. yet tired of our way and left its wreckage on a hundred coast. german cast its fires about the globe. his strength lay in our weakness. at last his conquest smoldered behind the barriers of his arms. along the channel where the sea strikes france stood the west wall of concrete stone and steel to mock the frail hopes of the petty free. wounded hard pressed and wasted in our strength almost like "madmen" then we planned to breach the wall and smash the german smite.
our eyes sought out the place of assault. exits in title range. sand of the wind cancelled the belgium coast. the nor sand beaches were too small and kiffs barred the approaches. quarter turn, too narrow. another heavily defended. it all resolved on normandy on foot. airplanes would land on the ground, the coast defenses were more light and tides had a good range, and men were safe from winds. so on five miles of still unbloodied sand, the threat of course would be sailed by armored nations. now our people bent to the construction of a steel array and took the builders hammer in their hands. seemed as though the sun stood still full of range and power through the air the sphere of war. this is our people's story in
that when a sea gull comes down on a patch of oil its feathers stick together and can't get off the water again. there must have been a lot of dead sea gulls around the north atlantic. >> of course, we only saw it happening on the map. yet it was, well, quite real. when i started there, those markers we used might have been toys out of a children's game. soon they were ships carrying cargo and weapons and supplies and men to use them. >> i remember coming over the worst thing about the trip was you didn't know where you were going. wherever it was, you would be a stranger and nobody likes that. that ship was loaded from stem to stern with sad sacks. third day out, we're all on the same boat. a comic. finally we got to liverpool. they had a band to play us in. an english army band full of chimes. "i'm dreaming of a white christmas" they played.
>> i was a pre-med student. at johns hopkins in civilian life. now i do know a little something about anatomy. and i say it is scientifically impossible for the human body to stand up to the training we received. an absolute impossibility. muscles and tendons and bone structure was not designed to withstand that battering. don't ask me how it happens that we did stand up to it. i don't know. it has no scientific explanation. >> here, listen to this. one of those army captains. to a young man, soldiered in the army of today offers exceptional advantages and opportunities
such as physical training, foreign travel, sport, and many other facilities which are normally denied to those engaged in in the majority of civilian occupations. the majority of occupations in civil life become anomalous to say the least. but in the army, life is so varied that there's little or no prospect of a monotonous or irksome time. >> guard it with our highest honor, and while they earned the lethal arts of war in small and secret rooms, the planets met to watch their work mature. beyond our view, the german proud and confident stood calm on the armored coast. the war was not yet one of men and blood, the weapons were the factories speaking in the hidden light. season by season, all our plans advanced and those few men on
whom the massive war rested with all of its weight worked caselessly. >> i used to wonder whether the millions of people doing their various jobs realized they were part of it all, paving the way for the invasion. >> we kept bashing away at german targets, worcester steel and oil, hamburg, battle of berlin. >> things were getting tougher every trip. more ground defenses, more fighters, more crews not coming back. >> we got away early in the morning. sometimes we'd see land casters coming back. a lot of times we'd stoke up the same target they did. it was a service day and night, 24 hours a day. >> we dropped agents over france. must be awful to risk your neck and have to keep it secret. >> one man's submarines
torpedoed both commandos. we used them all to bring back cups full of sand for analysis. >> it had to be quick drying with a solid clay foundation. it would have to support 30-on to tanks. >> i must have photographed every field in france. >> we dropped stuff armed, ammunition, sabotage materials and so on, then taught them how to use it. >> we hadn't the least an idea what kind of gadget it was. >> it was vital to know about the same tides and retrain to negotiate the tides and landing craft. >> german sea power in preparation for the day. >> the special study of the weather along the nor mappedy coast. >> miles of wire netting for the beaches, 7200 tons of petrol per day. >> with an underwater pipeline to carry to france. >> white stars to enable the liberation. >> new ships pouring from the stocks. old ships adapted. listening to the german radio output for fresh intelligence. >> that was just part of the preinvasion work. by december' 43 the plan was set and we took it for final discussion.
>> they approved the plan. our russian forces advancing from the east and invasion from the west. and then the date was set. >> i assume command is safe with the best all-around team for which a man could ask. some have already been working for months in england. others i brought with me from the mediterranean. we adopted first a master plan and then had to coordinate every last detail of the ground, sea and airplanes. while this was going on, we led off with an air show designed to poin make the landing points as soft bat as possible to batter the german communications and to make ns, and certain we'd have control of the cont air. it was quite a show. those airmen did a magnificent th job. th
>> we had polish, french, czechs, the only way they could make up was marshaling the arts. >> we used to ask each other, ut have you cut any good bridges lately? ask finally there was only one whole railway bridge left over the seine between paris andonly one the sea. >> down in the late spring through the wounded towns of england moved the mass made by e our patients.ed two precious years of plans were put away. the offices were empty.. all the maps were on the walls. paper had come alive. across the channel, our resolve the germans stood beside our guns. they were prepared, their might was poised. they looked across the sea and grinned.
>> it was a funny sort of t feeling marching down to the on ships. we had done it plenty of times of course, on the scenes and cise that sort of thing.. they didn't tell us this was the big show. might have been another exercise. some of the chaps cracked gags.t i think we all guessed. the general feeling was get in there and get it over with. even waiting for a bus, never ng for a could stand it. well, after a bit our ship found its place in the middle of all the rest.st of there we stayed for days.th ♪ >> they gave us the final briefing then.us knew wh we knew what to do and how, they.
told us where and when, that's a briefing. w i listened to every word. eve wrote it down in my head like a record and it kept playing over lik and over again. ov peace at beach in the morning. i ever since i became a soldier, they were getting me ready for this.orn protecting me.me. now the time had worn away and now th there were only a few hours left. in the morning i would have to face it. imag i had tried to imagine how much uld fear i would have, to keep me from doing my job. i suppose everybody else was wondering the same thing. >> nobody said anything official, but all of a sudden the ship got much busier.of and over the amplifier the he
chaplain said he would be saying mass at 1830 hours.he i don't think i ever believed e even after the final briefing that the invasion was going to come off. speake and a voice in the loud speaker sh to said, men who wish to take their anti-sick sea pills should take their first one now. that did it. ♪ ♪♪
>> i was tugging a glider. three airborne division. just before the glider pilot glid cast off, they wished us good luck over the radio.er seemed inadequate thing to say. >> as supreme commander, let me break in at this point to say just a word about the navy. from the moment of embarkation, the full burden fell upon the e navy and our fleets. they had to sweep the mines, bombard the coastal batteries, tect protect the transports along the coastline, and finally, man the ine small boats that carried the soldiers to the beach. ach. on that day, there were more land
>> they called our beach omaha. don't ask me why. i never been to omaha, in nebraska i mean. if it's anything like omaha, france, you can have it. i understand omaha was the roughest spot. lost so we lost some good men, took a few prisoners. it was a lousy trade.hat we've been told what to expect so it wasn't like a surprise or anythingng. it just, well, when it really happens, it's different. for awhile, they were pinned down.e the other beaches were going better so we got a little more tfinall than our share of the old teamwork. navy come in and the air guys and finally we got moving good. we hear a lot about how long it takes to make battle hardened soldiers out of green troops.
i got to be a veteran in one day. that day. >> so they lurked and reached ss the the roads. rich green pasture, the three airborne divisions. and loud across the crater face the of france came german reenforcements.t a voice cried out an ally before t another day burned a hole in he history. the armies clashed. our first objective, then, was jective to merge all into one and 50 miles of men drive on together togeth beyond the red sands through the broken wall. >> it wasn't too bad getting ashore. for keeping it like you'd been
told.bel chucking a few hundred grenades and rush them. we would kill more than them. they were regular fortresses. our own men while they would wait for artillery support. the navy was still with us too chucking in shells ahead of us. advance in the days, we advanced seven s. miles. an then we were told to stand fast d and dig in. next morning they heard the newsit sound from the bbc. it sounded great.es we joined up all along the ot a foo bridge head. there was 45 miles of it. we had got a foothold. we were in.
>> a portion of the film "true glory" and joining us is mark harris who has been researching searchin many of the directors from this period. as you look back at that film, what are your impressions? bache >> you know, the english film makers, the men in the british army film unit were really pureless at putting together these documentaries. not only did home front audiences in england find them ng, but very stirring, but they played well in america too. england had a head start on the king eff film making effort in the war and their documentaries including early ones like desert victory really sparked a sense of competition in u.s. film makers.
there was a lot of open discussion in the war department fran and with people like frank caprak ur saying why aren't our movies this good? why isn't the material we're getting as strong as this british material? so the true glory in the hands ally g of carol reid, a really great a director, is a good example of how the english knew what they were doing on this front. >> in setting up our sation conversation about this film, we touched briefly about the riefly concentration camps and what n camp george stevens saw throughout germany. he put a film together on the concentration camps. what did you learn about that? learn >> yeah, stevens did not go home qu quickly after the war was done. he lingered in germany and he was in uniform and on duty. to his traffic was to prepare two evidentiary films that were to be shown at the nuremberg trials later that year. one of them was called the nazi plan, which was intended tasosystemat
was a well-calculated systematic effort, in a way to the ot prove intent and upon spearcy, and the other film co "nazi concentration camp" was to document the atrocities that s stevens and his men had seen when they went through the gates filme and filmed there. >> i, george p. stevens, colonel, army of the united i w states, hereby certify that from the 1st of march, 1945, to the 8th of may, 1945, i was on know, we active duty with the united
states army corps. t >> both of the movies were shownhe at the trial themselves and infat since the defendants were, you know, were present, they were of forced to watch these movies. one by the accounts of people who were there, it was really a fascinating experience that at first they didn't understand will that the crowd that the room was join horrified by this.the they were so infatuated with the footage of hitler that one of site o them said, you know, after this the even the americans will want to nts join up.d. the films, in fact, had just thed opposite of the impact that the german defendants had hoped.room th they so repelled and horrified the room that afterwards some of the defendants' lawyers said they found it almost impossible the to be in the same room with the they people they were representing. by the time the second of the two films were shown as tood nuremberg, the defendants really understood that it was over for hem. that the films had provided evi
evidence that was more damning and more painful than any spoken testimony could be. in >> finally, george stevens left the army in 1946. what was his post world war ii career like? >> stevens' post world war ii career was great.did it did not include comedies he because he felt incapable of fu making funny films after what he d had seen. he became a very serious espec director who was hugely tes respected throughout the 1950s for movies like "giant" and "a place in the sun" and "the diary of ann frank."diary the interesting thing was t thin stevens felt that the closest wo thing he had made to a world warwar ii movie after the war was actually not a war movie but a western.it was it was "shane." and "shane" was inspired becausespired b stevens when he was in post war t-war germany was horrified to see
little children running around ap in cowboy outfits shooting cap pistols.pis he wanted to make a movie that of made audiences aware of what a bullet really did. shoot what the impact of shooting someone really was and he said i b that in the movie, i believe the words he used was for our purposes in this movie, a singleingle shot is a holocaust. and even today, "shane" stands as one of the most sober and painful westerns from that era. >> george stevens, one of the five directors featured in the the new book out by mark harris k titled "five came back." joining us from new york city, here on "american history tv," thanks very much for being with us. >> t >> thank you.ng a
>> you've been watching a s e special presentation ofve our p.m. "reel america" series. join us every sunday for archiveas these al films take you on a journey on through the 20th century that'sury. "reel america" every sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. we'd like to tell you about our lectures in history series. join students every saturday at ht ea 8:00 p.m. and midnight to hear lectures on topics that range lectu from the american revolution to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. lectures in history every saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern here on m. american history tv.ht eas and we'd like to hear arefrom you, twi follow us on twitter, connect and leave comments at face facebook.com facebook.com/cspanhistory.
each week "american history tv's" reel america brings you films that tell the story of the 20th century. in the third of a five-part book at hollywood director who is made films for the u.s. . government during world war ii, we feature director john ford. in the 18-minute documentary he made for the u.s. navy about the june 1942 battle of mid-way. the film presented a victory in vivid color to an american public eager for good news in aton the year following pearl harbor. but first, we speak with author ha mark harris about john ford. >> in his book "five came back,"thor m author mark harris focusing on artory the story of hollywood and the t second world war and five leading directors at the time, including john ford who served in the u.s. navy during world t th serv war ii. the mark harris, thanks very much for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> what can you tell us about rk of jo the work of john ford? of >> well, ford was one of the
most respected directors in ted hollywood, probably the most before respected director before the r. war. between 1939 and 1941 he went on kind of an unmatched tear in tear hollywood making "the grapes of he wrath," "how green was my valley," "stagecoach," one of the first really important sound westerns "drums along the mohawk," just a him set of movies that gave him the reputation as one of the most intelligent and serious minded directors. he he was also the most prescient of the five directors i write about in realizing war was inevitable.alizin three months before pearl nths bef harbor, ford was already in uniform. he felt war was coming, and he ad also understood hollywood really
needed to be prepared. he had gotten the navy to agree crea almost a year before the war to tecame let him create something that came to be known as the field photo photo unit. it was a sort of -- intended as nded an auxiliary in which he recruited cameramen and soundmen and film editors from hollywood studios who would spend their weekends and nights training to do things like develop film on a listing ship and, you know, shoot film under wartime conditions.y love you know, in some ways it was kind of a lark. ford really loved ceremony and ucial military procedure and dress up, but this unit became absolutely shoot crucial during the war when it was called into action to shoot documentaries. >> two of the most significant th events, d-day, where john ford om witnessed the events unfold on
omaha beach, and the battle of e midway in which he was wounded, correct?e of >> yes.e war i the battle of midway was the w first time that a major american filmmaker was there to film an as the u engagement.ned, so it was the middle of 1942. the war in europe was not obviously happening yet as far as the u.s. was concerned, so all of the news, all of the concentration, all of the effort was spent in the pacific trying to hold off the japanese in various places while the navy attempted to rebuild its fleet to full strength after the damage done by pearl harbor. and most of the news in the six h months after pearl harbor that war had come out of the war was not .s. good for the u.s. there weren't a lot of victories being tallied in the newspapers.
terms of there was a lot of valor in terms of allies holding the line for a very, very long time before, you know, bataan, you know, or the philippines fell, but midway was the first point at which we won a successful, major engagement, and ford was there. he had been put aboard a ship %fe at from hawaii and taken to midway without knowing that a battle a was coming. he said later that he assumed that he was there to make a attack documentary about life at a remote naval outpost and instead when he got there, he learned a japanese attack was imminent andso that the u.s. was prepared. so on the morning of midway, he was stationed on the roof of a powerhouse with a camera and a powe couple of men from his unit who also had cameras. perfectly positioned to capture
incoming japanese and he was captu alternating shooting footage and being on the phone to the naval japanes officers below just telling them t what he was seeing, and he shot b until a piece of shrapnel hit him on the arm and knocked the film and its camera out of its sprockets and, you know, he was the first hollywood filmmaker to be wounded in action.nded i >> and we're going to see his work, part of an 18-minute film titled "the battle of midway," but mark harris, for our audience watching in just a t moment, what should they look well, for? >> well, it's impossible to erstat overstate the impact that this movie had. by the end of its run, because un it's a short movie, it didn't show instead of hollywood itmo features. it showed in addition to them.
by the end of its run, it had played in three-quarters of all the movies in the united states.it w what you should look for in thisas movie is, first of all, the fact it was made in color. we take that for granted now, but it was shocking and in unprecedented for audiences then to see real events like this in color."the the color had been reserved for fantasies like "the wizard of "gone oz" or historical epics like "gone with the wind" or, you know, fashion shows or lavish musicals. od black and white was considered, oddly, as it may sound, more realistic.so so this was one of the first examples of color realism. also, if you listen to the movie, you'll hear there are l hear four off-camera voices.off-ca he has a really interesting tech technique of kind of alternating narration and commentary, and two of the voices you will hear,
which are sort of a surrogate urrogate elderly woman and young man, maybe her son who are sitting in the audience, those are voices of jane farwell and henry fonda who jane ford had just used in "the grapes of wrath." it's pure, raw footage, especially in the middle of the pu movie when the narration drops away and the battle begins.e when t >> mark harris, thanks for being with us, and from 1942 with director john ford, this 18-minute film titled "the battle of midway." ♪
>> excitement this morning. the dawn patrol has sighted an enemy. during the night flying fortresses had landed at midway. o >> a historic council of war is held.lk >> his walk looks familiar. say, is that one of them flying flying fortresses? >> yes, ma'am, it is. >> that's young will. he's from my hometown, springfi
springfield, ohio. he's not going to fly that great g big bomber.re >> yes, ma'am, that's his job. he's a skipper. jo >> will's dad is an engineer. 38 years on the old ironton railroad. and his mother, she's just like just the rest of us mothers in springfield or any other american town.and his and his sister, patricia, she's about as pretty as they come. >> i'll say so. >> good luck. god bless you, son.
search for men who fought to the last round of ammunition and flew to the last drop of gas and then crashed into the sea.fl eight days, nine days, ten days without food or water. >> his first cigarette. that first drag sure tastes good. >> 11 days. well done. morgan ramsey. frank bessler. that's 13 for frank.ank. ♪
♪ >> get those boys to the hospital. please do, quickly. get them some clean cots and cool sheets. get them doctors and medicine, a nurse's soft hands. get them to the hospital. hurry, please. >> there was a hospital, clean, orderly, 100 beds. and on its roof the red cross plainly marked.ainly the symbol of mercy the enemy was bound to respect.
>> the next morning divine g services were held beside a bomb crater that had once been a chapel. at even tide, we buried our heroic dead, the last salute from their comrades and their officers. ♪ of thee i sing ♪ ♪ land where my fathers died land of the pilgrims' pride ♪ >> captain sinad of the navy. ♪ from the mountainside ♪ >> colonel shannon. ♪ let freedom ring ♪ >> major roosevelt.
>> ford was really proud of his service.rvice. he was the oldest of the five write directors i write about. bec in fact, he became a grandfather during the war. he had been old enough to serve in the first world war, although the he didn't. so for ford i think the war was w a proving ground.an he really wanted to test his courage, and although he was, you know, at least once directly o in the line of fire, i'm not d sure that ford ever believed at that he was courageous. al in fact, at one point he said, all i know is that i'm not a brave man, that i'm a coward. that was after he had been at d-day. so ford was really proud that hed had served, and, in fact, when he completed his sort of decommissioning papers, he said he would do it again if called t
upon. one of the things ford did right after the war was start a place called the farm, which was sort of a combination rest home, clubhouse, barroom, getaway for the men in his field photo unit, unit and it was a place that he ted decorated with, you know, every medal and recognition that he wi had ever won during the war. that was something he was really obsessed with, but it was a huge part of his identity, and he kept it in operation for almost 25 years after the war. >> i just wanted to ask you about his work and how it now lives on in the films he put together.st how just how important was it to the allied efforts and to the american people who saw these li am films in the 1940s? >> ford's war work was tremendously important. i mean, especially "the battle "the of midway" which was really the first visual evidence that
homefront movie-going audiences had that the u.s. could win this thing. th it was the first really good he fir news that movie theaters broughtst about the war, and also i think beyond any one movie that he put on screen, ford will always have a place in the history of world n war ii filmmaking efforts r ii because he was the first of of anyone, whether in hollywood or the war department, to realize and believe and act on the e and conviction that there should be a wartime filmmaking effort. he understood that it was going oing to be absolutely essential to document this war and that film, which at the time we should really remember was -- sound film was only 10 or 12 years old. rem old. it was newer to americans by far than the internet is to us today. the ford really understood this fledgling medium would play an derst absolutely critical part in
american perceptions of the war y effort. >> the book came out earlier this year "five came back: a "five story of hollywood and the second world war." among the directors featured by the director's featured by author mark harris is george stephens and john ford.illiam thank you very much for being with us.nkg >> thanks for having me. you've been watching a special presentation of our reel 4 america series. join us every sunday at 4:00 p.m. for more films by government, industry and educational institutions. watch as these films take you onnd a journey through the 20th century. again, that's real america at 4:00 p.m. eastern.aor for a special look at the presidency. aia le
learn from -- and hear drekly from our chief executives and archiv our chief speeches. every sunday at 8:00 p.m. cspan history, connect on facebook. t check out our upcoming programs at cspan.org/history. in the f in the fourth of a five-part look at hollywood directors who made films for the u.s. government in world war ii, we feature director william wyler and thunderbolt, a 42-minute documentary he made for the u.s. army air force about a squadron of p-47 fighter planes stationed in italy.
he also directed the documentary the memphis belle, filmed inside bombers on missions over nazi germany. first, to provide context, we speak to author and film historian mark harris. >> a new book out by author mark harris, five game back, a story of hollywood and the second world war, and among the directors featured is william wyler. mark harris is joining us to explain this book and this director in world war ii. thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> who was william wyler? what's his background? >> of the five directors about whom i write, wyler was the only jew.
he was an immigrant from a small town called mulose, which was in a region of france that when he was a boy and a teenager, had been at various times either french or under german occupation. so when he came to hollywood and worked his way up and eventually before the war became known as one of the most sophisticated and meticulous and mature craftsman in hollywood with
movies like jezebel and the letter and the little foxes and dodsworth. he was also very conscious of his status as an immigrant and as a jew who was trying to help get dozens of family members and friends out of europe before the war crashed down. >> let me follow up on that point because as an immigrant, you also featured frank capra in your book. his family coming to the u.s. from italy. take us back to the mindset of the late '30s and early '40s and how this might have affected the psyche of directors like william wyler. >> one thing that it's really hard to recapture now is the idea that before the war, the relationship between hollywood and washington, d.c. and in fact between hollywood and much of america was very suspicious. there were many isolationists in america and in fact in congress, and in the government. there were certainly many anti-semites in america, and there was a considerable overlap between isolationism and anti-semitism, although there were certainly isolationists who were not anti-semites and a lot that were. and the way that played out was this suspicion that this kind of grubby, seedy business where there was mob infiltration of the unions, where most of the men who ran these studios were first or second generation
immigrants. most of them were jewish. there was a suspicion that's, you know, these people were not real americans. that they were fomenting an appetite for war that they were creating, essentially interventionist propaganda in their entertainment movies with an eye toward dragging america into a war to protect their financial interests and to protect their relatives in the old country. that's the level of kind of paranoia and suspicion and contempt with which many in hollywood were viewed by many in old country. that's the level of kind of paranoia and suspicion and contempt with which many in hollywood were viewed by many inamer america and by many in congress. and the heat was particularly on
people like wyler, who were jewish and constantly under arner br pressure to assert their american identity above all. you know, they would get pressured by -- wyler got pressured by warner brothers at one point to make a contribution to the hollywood community chest, a local charity, and het importan said, i can't. all of my money is tied up rightknow now in trying to get people out of europe and warner basically said, i sympathize, but i don't care.eat pr it's really important for us to r mute o show that we care about, you know, not just our relatives but our community here. becam so there was great pressure to assimilate, great pressure to be american. as a great pressure to mute one's jewishness or mute one's docu foreignness. >> in terms of the timeline of expl
his life, he became a u.s. citizen, as you pointed out, back in 1928. >> he then served as a major in the u.s. army air forces between 1942 and 1945. and put together three documentaries, including the 1947 film "thunderbolt." explain. >> well, wyler had made a really powerful documentary called "the memphis belle, the story of a to flying fortress" which was the first war time documentary to li show what it was like to fly missions in a bomber over francedocume and over occupied germany.ntfrom t and unlike many documentaries from the war, there was no restaging in this. wyler and his men trained to fly. d they went over to europe. they flew five missions. they were shot at. and all of that commitment led t. to this documentary, which was made with great attention to various military. he really wanted to create a kind of "you are there" experience. >> one of the most important kind o instruments is the interphone.
>> there's four of them. 1:00 high. >> they're coming around. watch them. >> coming in. >> 2:00, watch it. >> an engine on fire. >> out of control, 3:00. >> come on, you guys, get out of that plane. bail out. there's one.get out he came out of the bombay. >> i see him. >> there's a tail gunner coming out. >> watch out for a fighter. keep your eye on him, bill. >> see any parachutes? >> 9:00. >> that movie and the acclaim for it led to wyler wanting to make a different movie about another kind of bomber called "thunderbolt." and it was during the filming ofr it l extra footage for "thunderbolt" a little more footage that wyler wanted to get of the italian another coastline that he experienced this real personal tragedy,
which is that he got out of the plane and had gone deaf in the air. you know, wyler was shooting in unpressurized cabins. it was freezing cold up in the air.ragedy, the noise from the engines was, you know, ear drum shattering. and he finally ultimately lost his hearing, and with that, literally overnight, his army service was over in this very unexpected way. so the completion of "thunderbolt" became terribly important to him, even though by the time he was recovered enoughr. to finish the movie, the war was over and there was simply no use for this kind of propaganda film anymore about u.s. military d he f might. so that's why you have the anomaly of a movie like "thunderbolt" which was intended for war time consumption, not n this v being shown until 1947. and then, even then, being barely seen. when wyler finished his print and took it to washington and showed it to army brats, a
general stood up after the screening and said, willy, what is this movie for? and he really had no answer ymore ab because the timeline of world war ii had just outraced him. >> it is a 42-minute film. and it's titled "thunderbolt" ike from director william wyler. mark harris, thanks for being mption with us. now a chance to see the film in its entirety. ♪ this picture was photographed in combat zones by cameronmen of the mediterranean allied forces and by pilots of the 12th air force who joined missions against the enemy, whprin rm operated automatic cameras in that plane. behind the pilot, shooting forward and back.y ha under the wing. in the wing. timed with the guns. in the wheel well.e in the instrument panel.iam wyle photographing the pilot himself.nqdyz