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tv   Reel America The Lost Battalion - 1919  CSPAN  September 29, 2018 10:00pm-11:31pm EDT

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father saying, if the president of the united states asks you to do something for your country, yes.nswer is, that sentiment i think, really embodies his entire sense of obligation not to necessarily be a president in his own right, but to hold the presidency up as . charge to hand >> off to the next person director of the united methodist university center for presidential history discusses his new book "when the world seemed new, president george h w bush and the end of the cold war." tomorrow night on c-span's q&a. this year marks the centennial of american involvement in the first world war and here on american history tv, we show you are
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silent film from 1919. first to explain the book, edward lengel, author of the book "never in finer company." and anjuli singh, a film historian. let me begin with your interest in "the lost battalion." where does it come from and why? edward: it is a human story of the first world war, the most powerfully human story at have read. it is very intimate, about small group of individuals who came from very different backgrounds. many of them from deep poverty, many of them were immigrants and some of them had not even been naturalized. others were farmers or ranchers from the west who came together and end your day, and struggle. they bonded together and became story. the american i also have a personal collection with -- connection with this because i am related to surgeon alvin c york who was involved in the rescue of the
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lost battalion. i have walked on the side of the battlefield itself, which you can still do today, you can see the trenches that the soldiers dug there in the woods. you can get an intense sense of what he experienced. host: we will be talking about this. , it was called "the great war." what was it about? edward: the great war was a tragedy of the western civilization. that is why it is still regarded dynamic mesh titanic struggle of the 20th century. a war of empires, a war over territory, national rivalries, , the reasons are obscure and difficult for americans to figure it out even today. we were pulled into the conflict which began in august of 1914,
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we were pulled into the conflict in the spring of 1917 when germany assumed unrestricted summer in warfare. foundnt will send compelled to ask congress for a declaration of war. americans are at first very reluctant, to participate in the at, recruiting was dismal the beginning, which is why the nation had to institute a draft to bring troops and. of, patrioticnd crusade for the country, but it was not that way originally. host: anjuli singh, you have studied silent films. broadly speaking, when do they begin and when do they end in american history? -- they endedegin in a 1927 with the release of "the jazz singer" and they started in the 19 20's. i think it was a powerful film,
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it only began a few months after and it wasce, released in 1919. it came out at the end of the war, the war was still completely fresh in people's minds and that minds of the participated. i think the film would've been extreme a powerful because of the resonance it had at the specific time. host: we heard from the washington evening star, back in the time when we had afternoon newspapers, july, 1919, the film was screened on the willard hotel in pennsylvania avenue in washington. unduly fresh yes, and it was shown mostly to veteran groups and military gatherings. when it was first released. andjuli: it was in the rerelease in a 1926 when it really garnered an audience. host: who was behind the film? anjuli: it was produced by
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edward mcmanus who had held executive positions at the paramount and at first independent film services. before he started his own production company, the lost battalion was the first film is released under his production companies label. course, is af silent film but we will have your commentary and analysis as review it. thanks to the library of congress. let us role the film. roll the film. let me begin with the screen which says, "reenacted by survivors." can you explain? a shockingt was concept at the time and it is important to remember, most americans had never seen any cash of calm that film of combat. this film, although based on fictionalized, partially reenacted by the actual survivors of the action
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very powerfuls, concept. these men, alexander whittlesey and george mcmurtry were household names for americans at the time. they had both received the medal of honor and alexander had commanded their unit, the 77th division. brian: how was the film received 1919? anjuli: and really did not get a wide release, it was mostly shown to veterans groups and at events related to the history of the lost battalion. in a 1926 is when it received a wider release in the united days and it was very well received by the public at the time. there were some accounts when it was first released in 1918 in the new york city, some
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members of the public were able to get in and were overwhelmed that what they saw. brian: a doughboy. whether that -- where did the term come from? was becauseosedly he loved donuts so much, i think it is from the mexican-american .onflict general alexander commanded the division. he did not experience the fighting and in fact, he was despised by many of his officers, although you do not get that sense here. host: and the pocket refers to what? anjuli: it is an area in the woods in which whittlesey and mcmurtry were all surrounded and attacked. they spent several days of no food, no water, no medical supplies. you see, george mcmurtry, medal of honor recipient on the left,
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commanded the lost battalion. lieutenant colin on the right, commanded cut -- captain colin on the right commanded company h . brian: the production that went into the film, what was involved ? by today's standards, obviously, it seems archaic, but was it the state of the art during this. period? anjuli: absolutely. reduction was pretty similar to the way that it would be today. you did have a script written out even though he was a silent film. titles to guide the audience in dialogue and summaries of what is happening. that iter than the fact is a silent film with no sound, it really was produced in a very similar way as films are produced today. brian: based on your research,
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if we were sitting in a movie theater 100 years ago, what would the movie be like for the audience? anjuli: i think for this specific film because it is such a patriotic film, it would probably be somber and respectful. some comedies would obviously lighteruch atmosphere, if you went to see a comedy in 1919, but there would still be music in the center even if it was a silent film. not films at the time did have an official score received -- released by the studio. some of the larger epics did later on in the silent era, but this film probably wouldn't have. it would have been up to the individual or theater pianist to come up with the music. many pianists had a booklet of music that they could go and select and play at the front moments. for love scenes, sinister scenes, when the women came on screen. but because this film is so
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patriotic, they would have incorporated a lot of music from the time period as well. brian: edward, we are seeing mornings up here. edward: i love all the names of the distinguished service number -- servicemen. it many of them came from the lower east side manhattan, many of them were recent immigrants, 25% jewish unit, some of the officers depicted in the beginning did not actually participate in this action. was not actually there, the ted and kaiser was not actually there, but i love the depiction of manhattan here too, because it very closely identified with new york city, the division did. new york city was kind of the many people feared
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at this time but new york city was not really americans, because of all the immigrants. the saga of the lost battalion brought the immigrant story into the american story. and said, they are just like us, .hey are heroes too brian: that is an emotional goodbye, sending their son off to war. edward: it is interesting, many of these men did not speak english. into the first moved line, it was reported that an italian division had come into the line, because they were all speaking in italian. a very closely identified with book,.eritage in your brian: -- in your book, there was a reference to camp upton. edward: it was in the middle of a slump, regarded as being a hell on earth because of all the mosquitoes there. draftees,ese are
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they go into this camp to train. brian: and they are all very well-dressed. [laughter] edward: they are dressed in every conceivable way. [laughter] interesting, it is it also became a very common genre convention for combat films in american films as well, the idea of having a unit of men coming from extremely different backgrounds, whether it be racial, religious or social economic, the idea that they could unify to fight for a common cause, it became a core of the american war film. brian: just how important work facial expressions in the silent film era? anjuli: they were very, very important. in earlier solid films, you see a much -- much bigger on,essions and later movements and facial expressions
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became a more settled as the close-up was developed. it allowed filmmakers and actors to express emotion in a subtle way, that earlier on when the development came about. see a lot of large gestures and facial expressions, most of which come from the theatrical backgrounds of most of the actors and the production personnel of the time. brian: were any of the actors well known at the time? edward: most of the actors in actors? were character anjuli: they weren't major stars. there are a few of them that we will see later, there is a another for who had a more successful career, i would say, in motion pictures. most of them acted during the seven area than they either retired or went back to the stage, so none of them really became major stars during that period. brian: what is happening in this scene? the man who, we see owns the office, we just saw him in the previous scene, he is trying to pull strings for his
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son, played by gaston glass, a notable character actor doing that hayward, so that he would not have to gate -- during that period. so that he would not be able -- you wouldn't have to get dirty --the you wouldn't have to get dirty in the military. brian: -- many of the officers felt that they had a duty to lead. many of the characters in this case, mothers, girlfriends at home are brought into the film to show you their perspective. edward: he said, many of these were lesser-known character actors. centers ofk by the the time, they are acting very well? anjuli: i would say that their acting was pretty solid.
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impressed by helen ferguson, the stenographer character. she did a good job of expressing that innocents former girlfriend whose boyfriend is going off to war. brian: do you know how long it took to film this and where it was filmed? anjuli: i don't know exactly, i was unable to find that, but considering how long it took, i would say would have been finished in almost a month, the entire production and editing process. some of the footage in the film actually comes from the u.s. signal corps come as some of the footage from the training practices. i know that the government supported the making of the film , so i'm sure they were able to be provided with that footage fairly quickly, i guess. but i would say probably about one month. brian: let me ask you about how this laid out in the home front as spouses and mothers were seeing there's sons go off to war. edward: there is a reason why
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they focus so much of this on the story of the women. and in, women at home the united states were particularly interested in these types of movies. it wanted to see what it had really been like. they wanted to see themselves as part of the story but they were particularly driven to understand what was happening at the front. and of course, women did participate as nurses, as ambulance drivers, as correspondents whenever they could, but they were not permitted to go near the front. brian: i see what you mean about helen ferguson. anjuli: absolutely. absolutely. her characters, only actresses mentioned, including here, baby born was another most successful child actors of the silent era. , she wasrred to frida
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considered the vamp of the. . -- vamp of the period and she had a very exotic back story crafted for her by the studios. they said that she was raised in the shadow of the pyramids. she had this exotic ejection background created for her when in reality, she was ohio. because of the stenographer character and her love of movies, it really brings in the culture, the fan culture
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important at the time. the studios were back stories, of and magazines for fans were really prolific. people would buy them and read all about their favorite actors and actresses. brian: can you explain this scene right now? edward: this scene is depicting a soldier whose father is actually german, showing what it is like to be the son of an immigrant, suggesting this idea of conflicted loyalties, which many worried about at the time. many of these soldiers who went descended fromre germany, austria hungary, other enemy nations. were actually kicked out of the army and prevented from serving because so this iscestry, trying to depict his father's conflicted healings -- feelings about his son going off to war. edward: some of the soldiers in the lost battalion were chinese. chinese-americans. brian: he is about to shoot somebody. why? anjuli: this is intended to the chinese "gang warfare ducks top warfare," in a new york
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city which many americans were fascinated with other time. brian: why? edward: many things. for my chu, novels about the asian culture in american cities was on the one hand fascinating and on the other hand, terrifying to americans and they fantasized about these obscure gangs, family rivalries and again rivalries of asians. brian: why is this relevant to the lost battalion? edward: it is not, really. [laughter] again, there were some chinese americans serving in the lost battalion and so far as there were gangsters in the lost battalion, and there were, they were mostly european-american gangsters, who were from new york city. brian: can you explain this scene? and 25%a jewish family of the division being of jewish
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many of them from eastern europe, of course so this is trying to depict that particular element. of the division. in fact, many of the men that we saw the very beginning, the distinguished crossman, distinguished service crossman, of the rest of them were jewish. brian: clearly, these were many first-generation immigrants whose parents came to the u.s. in the 18 60's or 70's, correct? edward: that's right, yes. and again, amazingly, some of the soldiers had themselves and not been a naturalized as american citizens, they remain as citizens of other countries. brian: another seated with the stenographer. why was her role central to the film? anjuli: i think it does a good job of encapsulating the fence
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of the home front area and a lot of the women who saw these films sons, whoends, actually went off to war. so i think this character would have resonated a great deal with female audiences who could .dentify with her edward: today, we are used to the idea of our servicemen and women going overseas to fight in in a 19s, but remember, 17-to 1918, this was completely new. the whole idea of millions of americans leaving their loved ones to go over seas was incredibly shocking. brian: what is happening here? landlady,is is the the woman who owns the boarding house where the stenographer lives and her boyfriend from the -- they referred to him as the kicker -- someone who complained a lot during that time is coming
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to visit her, so the landlady is being protective over having a man in her boardinghouse. brian: it references the wallpaper. i guess that is a bit of a dig, huh? [laughter] anjuli: yeah. found a first-hand account of the screening of this film in the newspaper and somebody came into the movie theater late and the theatre owner said, oh, you missed the best part, you missed the romance. [laughter] brian: some things never change in movies, right? anjuli: right. [laughter] : explain what he is telling her. anjuli: and seems like he is telling her the idea of what it is like to be in the army. mighture as a kicker, he be complaining a little bit, but i think he is looking for to the
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experience and he is obviously have top about it as she is proud of him for going off to serve his country. brian: and the landlady does not look happy. anjuli: no. [laughter] edward: there were so many young men, young men who had been drafted and came to be thrilled by the idea of the excitement, the adventure that they would get to prove their manhood, so overseas.ved it going brian: i want. brian: to go. brian: back to something you movie depictsthis not only the battle, but also the emotion here in the u.s. by those who saw their sons or husbands depart for france. , again, that is something we forget when we see the propaganda, the posters, we see the movies, we forget how wrenching this time was for the american people, how frightening
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it was. something like this, a movie brings it down to earth again. it makes it human. it makes it something you can understand. brian: what did you go out in the park, it is more romantic? anjuli: [laughing] maybe she just wants him out of her house. brian: so again, if you are in the movie theaters, music would be playing in the background? it would be live music? anjuli: yes. and most theaters just had a single pns playing. some cute -- single pianist playing. some have had orchestras and that would have been more epic, but typically it was just a single pianist playing along. brian: cutting to a different scene, what is this all about? anjuli: this is a similar action that took place in the scene before, the men going off to war. he is not as excited to see
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other fellows, but he looks -- it seems like his father's ward is trying to convince him that everything will be ok. actorsdid any of these make it into the talkies? anjuli: a few of them did have their career expand into the wound era, but none of them became major stars. late: which was in the 1920's. anjuli: 1927 would be considered the first film that had synchronized dialogue, "the jazz singer." part isxplain what this about, you are smiling. edward: the idea that some of the men who served in the film were criminals, playing from another background, you can see the senator -- sinister look. and yet, they are not evil, it
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is possible to redeem them and bring them, through their service to their country, back into the fuld again. fold again. the is important to point out that this part is all fictional. hese characters -- anjuli: yes, these are all actors. but based onnal, real accounts and then moved into the film? or.. edward: i think it is more broadly depicting the process. representative of events that occurred, i would say. edward: does this look to you like a low-budget movie for the time? anjuli: i would say -- it is kind of hard to say. there were a lot of locations filming overseas, so it would have had a higher budget.
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it looks like they would have what you would expect from this period in terms of the budget. brian: explained that face, is a concern?t or anjuli: of the burglar? yes. i think the lawmen are out for him. i think he is trying to hide it from his mother and his neighbor. edward: and of course, he has the loving what best the loving he has the loving mother who feels the stress of his ways. i am guessing an actor like this would have been chosen for his face. anjuli: absolutely. gangster-ishvery .ook to him edward: again, many of these men were draftees, many of them
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tried to escape the draft for a while but they were reluctant at first. but ultimately, the draft would be good for them. brian: what type of film was used to produce this movie? mmuli: it would have been 35 film, which is the standard for today as well. we'd like to think the library of congress following us to share this film with our audience. how was the film preserved? anjuli: they have a very precise system. most of these films were filmed in nitrate film which decomposes very likely and it has to be in a very specific environment to remain in tact and is also highly flammable. film,teristics of the many selling films did not survive because of those characteristics. records show that only about 10% of all silent films exist today.
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brian: our character has seen trouble. edward: he is seeing the opportunity to take the draft card and use it to get away from the police. andould get into the army escape the police that way. the age-old story. brian: was that, in? edward: it did happen. even in this period. brian: just mentioning, different races and pounds, again, as you mentioned earlier -- a lot of foreigners, many who did not speak english. these men the idea of becoming americans through their service was in many ways a very new idea. of immigrantsds soldiers were kicked out of the army just before their units were sent overseas because of this fear that they would have divided loyalties. what if they go over there and they actually betray our good american troops to the germans?
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brian: a lot of smoking in this film. anjuli: [chuckles] absolutely. this: a lot of smoking in film. anjuli: yes, absolutely. brian: so what's happening here? layabouthis is a young i take it from the bowery, considered probably a street bum in his old clothes for a uniform. challengeoing to be a for his officers to try to make a soldier out of him. brian: that's my next question.
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did they train these men? how did they get them in shape? of marching and a lot of drill. they didn't really understand to teach them how to fight in a modern war. how to do that. and the officers themselves, the were often bluebloods. they didn't know anything about men liketeract with these. brian: can you explain the uniforms? is the well, this field -- fieldan cap at the time. uniform expert, but these are the standard uniforms they would have worn in camp, although you can see here there are varieties another.soldier to brian: and at the moment we are still at camp upton, the still going on? edward: although they're getting ready to pull down the flag so overseas.epart for
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brian: and how did they get there? what was the trip like? had to board large transport ships, some of which liners, others were industrial ships of one and they werer shoved in, packed to the gills in these ships as they were carried overseas. about.ttle room to move much of the time they would gambling or trying to make friends on the ship and worrying submarines. brian: very quickly before we move to france, camp upton today if you were to travel there is it? edward: the site is still there a place, but iat don't think there's anything it's aside from i think marked with a sign of where it be. to but i don't think it's preserved camp.
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brian: we don't want any third lieutenants. can you explain what that's all about? edward: i suppose this is a soldier who's confused about wearing an enlisted man's uniform or an officer's uniform. think this film does a good job of trying to insert some comedic moments to mooden the tension and the of the film as a whole so this is one of those moments where is about to see exactly what his influence got his son. k.p. refers to? edward: it's just kind of drudge duty.
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thening out latrines and like. anjuli: and here we have the stenographer again coming to visit her boyfriend dressed to nines. edward: there was a lot of worry heree time this camp was on long island about soldiers running away from camp to go to new york city and getting involved in the shadier activities going on in the city. there was an attempt to kind of cordon off camp upton from the pure.o keep it moreally it didn't really work. brian: how long were they at the camp before they were shipped out? edward: they were at the camp september of 1917 up of 1918the spring
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before they shipped overseas so it was about seven months. we see the former burglar on the left, and now, a uniform. and, of course, he can't deal army the same the way he used to do on the streets. brian: what was their regiment like? what was a typical day like? it looks like they're peeling getting ready for chow? the soldiersroops, later complained and they complained at the time, that they really didn't learn much of how to fight. so they didn't get much rifle training. often they went overseas without knowing how to fire a shot. how to use anyw other types of weapons. a lot of it was spent with camp.ry around the and that was partly from simple supplies. we produced nothing in this country in terms of military and all the rest.
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brian: where did it come from? britainfrance and great for the most part. thathad war industries existed. is happening in this scene? anjuli: they just found the mr. merwin. his father is about to see to.tly what he's been up edward: wearing his dungarees. anjuli: yes. brian: and clearly, he is the nines. anjuli: absolutely. the costumes really do a great of showing social class and film.ound in this edward: now in truth it would have been difficult for parents to actually see what their boys were doing. upon wererelied
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newspaper reporters from the city to come into the camp and and tell stories of what's going on, as well as letters and the like. just saw the tents a moment ago in that earlier scene. is that where they lived and i that because you said they were there from september until the spring which meant fall and winter. edward: they did -- they did get barracks, wooden barracks, eventually. thein the early days of camp, it was tents for the most part. brian: what was it like for the men? edward: it was very unpleasant, especially during the summer months. wasas mosquito infested, it hot, it was swampy, very theeasant, got very cold in winter, of course, it being long island. by the spring, by the time they really begin to get settled in the camp, that's when they have leave.
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brian: when it's all over, everything will be the same. to what?ce edward: a reference to their family and their love for each other. one supposes but, of course, some irony there because thely nothing would ever be same. and that's one of the things. is deliberate.ny this is 1919, after all. the knew it would never be same. brian: is this emblematic of the frustration the men had, when they refer to the army and they don't take suggestions? the military and the american character have always had an uneasy relationship that was never more true than at this time, face if they go over to war to serve, they lose their
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individuality, they're told what to do. they really americans anymore? brian: much gold and a little dross, is that the correct pronunciation? what's dross? edward: dross is the waste product that's left over from smelting gold, creating gold or other precious metals. waste.e it's the ones that will never do well, never do good. in thishere are we scene now? what's about to happen? edward: they are still in camp, early 1918, and they're closer to getting overseas.nd moving they're a little bit better as soldiers than they were. brian: and who does this gentleman with a mustache characterize? anjuli: he's the lawman after burglar in the city and he's now found his way to the camp. him down.ed
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brian: and, of course, it goes theout saying this is pre-internet. there's no telephone, no way to really track the people down as do today. anjuli: right exactly today. brian: it was a letter to his mother. anjuli: there we go. brian: how often have you seen this film? anjuli: actually, before this i hadn't seen it, i had heard of think today, you know, it's mostly -- most known for actual film that stars war heroes playing themselves. but since then, i've seen it many times. edward: i've seen it a few times write mypreparing to of in this howd many of these veterans not here reenact their
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battle that they participated in. the idea fascinates me. brian: so spoiler alert, what's happen with our burglar friend? edward: he has become part of the army now and there's no way that his buddies are going to the law.up to fold.een brought into the brian: so they're protecting him. edward: they're protecting him, yeah. and as the audience you sympathize with the burglar. brian: maybe in part because his mom was in the scene. helps. that edward: his mom was very sympathetic. brian: we see the smile on his face right now. anjuli: uh-huh. it, though,uch of
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was the military needed every in service? edward: that was -- that was it.ainly a part of the war office did not initially discriminate very much in terms of who they would accept into the army. again, it's ironic that they seem to be more willing to people who had a criminal past than those who maybe came other countries. brian: we're seeing these end of part one, end of part two, three, why? anjuli: that would have been the of a reel. typically, at this time films were multiple reels. was probably anywhere between six to eight reels. each reel is usually about 10 minutes in length.
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brian: we now have moved from long island to france. edward: right and now, these are signal corps films from time. anjuli: that have been edited into "lost battalion." brian: where are they and what are they doing? in france? moved: well, the troops to areas behind the lines initially. division depicts trained with the british in northern france directly across english channel from great britain. this division initially trained with the british, and then it moved further south and the french.her with the same story with many americans. of culture shock was real
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these america american boys whod way ofry different to thehaving to get used french peasant culture. little perfume in the letter. some things don't change. actors, howat these many were part of the original battalion"? edward: i don't think any of these actors were part of the lost battalion. these are all character actors. agree with that. i think the heroes don't come into play until the actual battle scenes. brian: so when they mailed the letters do you have a sense of how long it took before the men would receive them? weeks?bly a couple of anjuli: i would think at least that. edward: sometimes, more than that. anjuli: but at the time that was really the main and only form of
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communication before obviously, the internet. brian: the emotion of having her or husband overseas. anjuli: absolutely. brian: and this must be a letter and him to his mom girlfriend. refers the great drive to the push in the spring and the summer of 1918 finally to germans out of france. the germans had occupied much of northern france and so we're approaching the end of the war, the final offensive that will germany back. was ithow significant that we were learning from the french and the german in terms warfare? edward: it was very significant, of distrust. a lot we learned too much from the french and the british corrupted.ld become
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they actually used that word, that if we learn from their be trulywill no longer american. see the scene in france and we see the scene back on the homefront, how emotional was this for the audience at that time, having lived through year?war i the previous anjuli: i think it would have been very emotional. i think everyone who saw the film would be able to identify with it in some way. sure, you know, they understand exactly how these characters feel, thinking of their loved ones abroad and then their lovednking of ones at home. brian: based on your expertise scene?happening in this anjuli: so this looks like it's an event for women on the homefront. thee knitting to support troops i would guess. but, you know, at the time the at home obviously tried to engage in activities that would help the war effort could.way that they and so it looks like that's what's going on here. we have some of the characters
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meeting. brian: even though it's black and white the costumes look rich colorful. anjuli: yes, absolutely. absolutely. wereou know the filmmakers very aware of how the audience would see the film and so chosens and fabrics were that would appear the way that iny wanted them to appear black and white on the screen. edward: i imagine film scholars was indy the set that the previous scene and maybe get an idea of what studio it might filmed in. anjuli: yes, yes. some studios had much more distinctive styles. this film was actually not impacted by a studio. made, butependently yes no that's very true. interesting the director of this film burton l. king, he was an established director at the time the film was made and he had worked on films, he had on serials which were very popular during the silent era. that's something the producer
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edward mcmahonus, the writer and burton king all had in common, they had all worked on serials and he today is most known for two films he made with harry houdini the personalst but his favorite of all the films he made was the "lost battalion." brian: we're now in september, 1918, 100 years ago the argonne the battle there. explain. edward: this is the beginning of meuse-argonne,he which remains the largest and bloodiest battle in american history. to france,ou went you can still see that today? edward: yes, you can. trenchestill see the and you can still see often the ordnance sometimes, unexploded shells lying on the ground. ridiculous,mewhat the germans they're depicting. they've cut off the front rims helmets i suppose to make their faces more visible. odd.kind of
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now, general alexander did command the division. instigators ofhe this film. he presents himself as a great enraged many of the men who served under him because blamed him for what happened in the pocket. then: and now, we see battle. this has all been leading up to film?oment in the edward: right. in truth, american troops did is go over the top as depicted here. they had very view of these type trenches. for the most part and this was his desire they fought in the in very shallow trenches. brian: and again, the area where battle took place? edward: the argonne forest where
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the 77th division was assigned was in the western part of the battlefield. french town.the it's eastern france, near the you can still go there today and still see the sites of the fighting. this trench,about but the scenes of the forest filmedlooked like it was in france. brian: and again, this clearly depicting the brutality, the battle ne combat of this battle. anjuli: absolutely and the filmmaker's choice of using andter framing, closeups medium shots does a really good job of emphasizing, you know, the claustrophobia of hand to hand combat. brian: again, an artistic this likely tos have happened? fighting,nd to hand
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absolutely happened quite a lot. yes. if i'm an american in 1919, a scene is this extremely shocking to me. harrowing. this is the 1919 equivalent of private ryan really. brian: a reference to the 77th what?on which was edward: which was the metropolitan division of city,-- from new york largely recruited of which the a part.talion was again, it wasion the first all-draftee division line service and depicted wasat it correct, they attacked into the forest day after day. these are many of them
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veterans of the lost battalion who they're showing marching through the woods. brian: so as you watch this, is realistic? edward: it's reasonably realistic. it has some silly parts. german helmets are pretty silly. goodt does a reasonably job of depicting the fighting in the forest. they did have to move through old german trenches. map.: there's your edward: that's right. anjuli: yeah, this -- servicemen?lion edward: yes. anjuli: i think this part of the film is kind of divergent from the previous half, this is much informational, much more scientific, they're showing you exactly the action that's happening. it takes a step away from the entertainment value that the the filmpart of
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emphasized. edward: one of the things it does not depict is that in between the french and the command of the lost battalion african-american unit, division, who were mishandled by their white veryers and were treated badly. brian: so the troops are moving courtesy of 1919 filmmaking., still pretty effective i would say. edward: as this battalion advances into the woods, into the argonne forest at the beginning of october he of runners posts stringing along behind to maintain communications with the rear. see the shovel. what's the significance of that? doing?he
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edward: marking a spot, digging a fox hole or actually what they them at the time were funk holes. for shelter. brian: and how did the allies communicate the military operations to those who were the soldiers? edward: communications was very difficult. was no real wireless communication at the time. phonelines which, of course, could be cut. pigeons, as we'll see a little bit later, were a primary means of communication. germans used dogs. the germans preferred messenger dogs. the americans used pigeons primarily. brian: again, another reference to what we talked about earlier, the pocket. edward: yes, this was where he pushed through a hole in the german lines. had no support on either flank and so he established a stillter, which you can
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see today, something like this. it was on an upward slope. been there. this looks familiar to me in some ways. this may have actually been on site. create a perimeter for all-around defense against the germans woulde attack on all sides and the germans did cut them off immediately. brian: how significant was it that this was filmed in france, silent film? this anjuli: i think very significant. have also goned a great way towards increasing the realism for the audience. you have the real heroes of the battle in the real place where the battle took place and so that would have been something i the audience. it would have been very powerful and then, you know, the film havection company could also used that in their marketing materials saying that, you know, explaining how film is. the that would have been something that could have potentially gotten people into the theaters
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brian: we saw on the screen that the germans attacking from all forest sides, compare the german soldier versus the french, british, american soldier in terms of preparation, training. edward: the germans were highly trained. they were veterans. fighting for four years, but they were many of or older men.s they had taken terrible casualties. we see again there's a with actualctors in veterans as you see the two chinese brothers i suppose they are. the americans were better fed. were fresher. aggressive. brian: the scene just a moment ago does go back to what you privatelier, saving ryan. edward: it is. there are accounts of the soldiers and this is george as saw earlier he was one of the few officers who was actually and depict what
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happened. that.s wouldn't do he definitely had shell shock, but he was a rock. was truly -- he walked all over the pocket to keep the men together. and he was a millionaire stockbroker from new york city who felt the sense of duty that to serve. brian: why? what motivated him? duty.: civic it was the same thing for him and any of the others, he was a very successful lawyer, new york lawyer. charles colin we saw earlier was successful new york lawyer. they owed at that duty to lead and to make any necessary, that's what they believed. brian: you may or may not know answer, but do they have descendants still alive in new u.s.?r elsewhere in the
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edward: yes, they do they do. they all haveow members. brian: explain what we're at edward: these are troops being sniped at attacked, over and over again. they have no food, no medical supplies. little waterhole at the bottom of the ravine. this is true. would try to sneak down and get water for themselves or germansddies, but the knew where the waterhole was and fired on it and killed several get water.ying to brian: how many were in the pocket? many men, total different? edward: about 550 men went into the pocket. toething like 200 were able walk out.
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brian: and that goes back to your reference of the germans on them. being: and they were deeply worn down. flamethrowers,d which is what the smoke is intended to depict. brian: and yet they keep coming back. i guess they were thirsty. wanted the water. edward: they were. was also often their wounded buddies who shared holes with holes.hared funk if your friend is desperate for water and he's badly wounded, do anything you can, risk your own life. know, generally speaking, if you were wounded, what were the chances of death?y versus edward: much better now than in previous wars. problem was, of course, the
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men in the pocket when they were wounded, there were no medics. there were no doctors there. kind.ical supplies of any and so they would use parts of their uniforms, they would use hanker chiefs or bandages and his ownem, reusing bandage for his friend. hear the cries of the wounded all night long. but as this is intended to show this incredible bond, men who had once been fromes, men who came different backgrounds. they came to rely on each other for everything. brian: one thing that seems to come away from these scenes is just how filthy it was. edward: yes. brian: how dirty it was and how horrific some of their .onditions were
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left the lostwho battalion remarked on the smell which was overpowering. brian: and now, we're back on the home front. anjuli: yeah. it looks like the women might be accumulating packages perhaps to and arethe troops getting ready to watch some news reel footage. brian: so this was the news of the time, this is how the public learned about what was happening in terms of itld war i a year after concluded? anjuli: so there were some news reels, you know, during the era.t during the world war ii is when iny became really prolific movie theaters so in addition to radio as newspapers, well would have been the main forms. brian: a reference to the pigeon that you talked about. edward: cher ami. what this does not depict
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perhaps because audiences would have found it too terrifying is battalion was being shelled by their own artillery, by american, possibly french artillery, friendly fire, terrible friendly fire incident, being killed, terrible bombardment. and they had one carrier pigeon releasedr ami, who was to try to get the artillery to stop firing on them. hit by shrapnel. the germans fired on birds when them because they knew what they were for. but an eye, lost a leg, somehow made it back to division. brian: what are we looking at at the moment? edward: these are -- this veterans is one of the
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of the lost battalion who are trying to hold off the german attackers but also trying to get food and supplies from their packs. because they were desperate. brian: of this story of the lost common knowledge here in the u.s. on the home front? time.: not at the the first reports of there being was cut offthat the newspapers a couple of days before it was relieved. the americans on the home front would not have known about this while it was happening. some famous newspaper reporters were there including the great damon ronion, who came and interviewed these troops as they walked out of the pocket. brian: and clearly hungry and thirsty and tired. edward: yes. anjuli: yes. brian: what kept their stamina?
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did they sustain all of this? edward: it's pretty clear that towards the end it was their other.r each it was their determination to fight for each other which has as often why troops fight. they don't -- they're not thinking of great ideas of country and patriotism and flag and it's not hatred of the enemy. fighting for each other. brian: so the carrier pigeon made it. edward: made it. brian: and this army officer is reading what? the film, he's learning where the lost totalion is and he's trying send support to them. i suppose artillery or infantry support. in reality, the pigeon was themsed to have informed that their own artillery was firing on their own troops. here we're seeing aircraft which attempted to drop supplies
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the men in the pocket. in fact, they were unable to get supplies to them. brian: what happened to cher ami battle?e edward: cher ami eventually died injuries, iher don't know if it was a boy or a has since been preserved and is on display in the smithsonian. anjuli: national museum of history. brian: here in washington. anjuli: here in washington, yeah. edward: captain cullen was one of the officers in the pocket. he was known as being very tough on his men, very abrasive. york lawyer. he was again one of the few willing too was actually act and he did try to signal the planes with these white cloths, but it didn't any good. brian: and these planes could how far before they would
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fueling?urn around for edward: they could spend anywhere up to as i understand hour flying to an over the pocket to try to find to drop was and to try supplies. but the forest was so dense. very difficult and the pocket was so small to get anything to them. brian: so again, we're seeing really man to man combat. edward: yes,. brian: was that common in world war i? was, although of course much of the fighting was from artillery. greatest caused the number of casualties, but when the troops came to close quarters like this and in the pocket of the lost battalion there was hand to hand fighting. quite a lot of it. brian: so bottom line, how did they eat, how and where did they sleep? slept where they were, in the pocket. they slept in their holes as
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could and they got nothing to eat. although we showed earlier one of breadetting a loaf from a german soldier. in truth, they weren't able to get anything. didn't carry their action.o and there's one figure absent here and that is charles who commanded the lost battalion. you see one or two very brief glimpses of him. he was deeply traumatized by this. guilty responsible and died.ery single man who and shortly after the war in the entombment of the unknown soldier he ended his own life. brian: wracked by fever so illnesses also a huge issue. singh, as you look at
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this, captain cullen and the other offices when they viewed howo you have any sense of they responded, what their reaction was? anjuli: i have read in my that they did not like the film, that they thought it was kind of ridiculous, the whole thing. just imagine, you know, the film was -- started filming only about a month after the end of the war so these events were all extremely fresh for these men only imagine you know, how horrifying and traumatizing it must have been for them to ofe to go through in front cameras and reenact an event that in all reality really reenacted. brian: what are we looking at now? that a soldiera in the greatest crisis can rely faith, really his faith peace.g him a sense of and it certainly did for some. anjuli: silent films, actually used special effects quite a bit. the early filmmakers were able
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get those kinds illusionsow, ghostly through matte shots and double exposure. brian: one soldier with a gun as though he died. here's one at the moment shot wounded. edward: and there's our burglar the film.m earlier in aian: so he does become synthetic character. anjuli: yes, absolutely. he findsnd you see redemption at the end. anjuli: and this film makes great use of cross cutting, from one location to another, to imply that events are taking place instantaneously is dying, the mother kind of realizes that and knows.
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brian: so we have a little bit of humor, we have the drama of the war, and we have the emotion of losing one's life. anjuli: absolutely. character,was a real although he didn't wear that ridiculous helmet. [laughs] ridiculous. them.u saw very briefly on the whole what they have prinz isom lieutenant , ande demanding surrender now as the troops hear the germans are telling them to revives them
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actually. it makes them angry and determined to fight harder. according to the foreword of the film, all the were the used as props real documents used during the event. we don't see any closeups, but something interesting to note. brian: so both sides are emboldened by this. edward: yes, the germans are out the lost wipe battalion before they themselves have to leave the forest., we see him brian: and i want to go back to the title of your book, never in company. so explain the story behind the title. the troops finally marched out of the pocket at the were relieved, he ind george, we will never be finer company than we are right now.
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when they had a reunion of the lost battalion survivors, george particularly after charles passed away would say gentlemanand we will never be in finer company than we are right now. the bonding experience was so profound. see the private has made his way out of the pocket tell relieving troops where were. die?: how did the officer edward: he was tormented for many years after the war by nightmares, by trying to help his own troops deal with their own trauma. to witness the entombment of the unknown soldier in 1921 at arlington cemetery.
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there.was also alvin york was also there. and something about that tormented him. he turned to george during the entombment of the unknown soldier and said i shouldn't have come here, george. my the cries of climbed on board actually -- hs movie the night before he ended his own life. have to imagine what he was thinking when he was seeing this. climbed on board a steamer that was going to cuba and he overboard. life.ded his great tragedy really. brian: how old was he at the time? know? edward: i can't remember off the top of my head. 30s.s in his early brian: so this scene is depicting what? edward: this is the relief of battalion.
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general alexander wanted to relieved thehe lost battalion, that it was his own troops who relieved the lost battalion. true. not in fact, it was troops attacking into a different part of the alvin york being one of them who relieved the lost battalion. brian: because they had lived up to the traditions of the soldier. in reference to what? edward: you see that idea that great american traditions, which we think of as being the white anglo-saxon protestant so to speak, but now like jack,ese men the young jewish side from the lower east side. another one was an elevator operator and now, he's become the american soldier. and, of course, general alexander wants to present himself as a hero. and, in fact, he was told off was relieved.t
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brian: he told him off? edward: he said our own artillery fired on us. and alexander turned to him said artillery was french artillery. but, of course, now in the film depicted as great friends. anjuli: and general alexander have something to do with the film. he's credited as being an it makes sense that he's depicted him a certain way considering that he did have a the story tong some degree. brian: edward lengel, why did an end?come to edward: the war came to an end because of a series of offensives of which this was one. american, french, british, german positions on the western front from multiple sides. battles,some major victories on the battlefield but also, germany had been greatly point, by thehis naval blockade.
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the huge casualties to their army. the german army was defeated in the field. and they finally had to seek an armistice. brian: and without getting too far ahead, clearly setting the for what would come in the 1930s. edward: yes. and world war i set the stage ways.rld war ii in many brian: we see the name general pershing. you mentioned him earlier. he?was edward: general john jay pershing was the commander of american expeditionary force war this is cher ami, by the way, with one leg, as you can see. was a difficult man to understand. he was in some ways responsible for the heavy casualties american troops took. ways also a very
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good commander. here? what are we seeing edward: well, they're giving credit to the fact that they all from new york. of course, this is the actual film footage of charles receiving his medal of honor in common. he was richly deserving of that medal. hisas totally devoted to men. and he sacrificed everything. and this is the division parading in new york city with their symbol, the statue of back to when they came the united states. flags.they are carrying what does that represent? their divisionf regiments.
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brian: so is that another bit of humor at the end of the film? anjuli: yes. definitely. the women want to see their men, these glorified positions, but in reality he's still doing k.p. duty. and here, of course, you have 's mother.r edward: looking for him. and this actual parade as it general alexander was up in the very front and he thought everybody was cheering him. he didn't realize that a little dachshund had run out onto the thede and was following parade from behind. everybody was cheering the dachshund. brian: so the mother is her son may not be among the troops? anjuli: yes. of course, here's the german his son.aluting
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brian: that had to be a significant issue because so german-americans came from their homeland and now, they're againsteurope fighting the country they came from. anjuli: absolutely, yes. fears ofnd those disloyalty were not borne out. honorably and true to their service. brian: you wonder if the land knock on the to door again. back.: she'll be edward: of course, you've seen the movie the big parade with don gilbert. the reunionmber scene in that is very different from this. anjuli: absolutely.
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edward: as i recall it was gilbert,the idea john the great heartthrob depicts a soldier coming back. in 1926 and he's lost a leg. anjuli: absolutely. don't dohich they here. brian: now, she seems much more welcoming. anjuli: now, he's a war hero so he gets a hug. but yeah so this film originally in 1919 and released that same year. it was rereleased in 1926 which is significant because you have many more of the larger epics released in the mid-20s, mid- to late 20s, including wings and the parade. and so i think this film would have -- it is very patriotic, it is overall, a positive whereas the other films tend to show the darker side of war and the
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so i think it would have stood in contrast to the other released at the time, but i'm sure the timing of its release, the rerelease ofbably helped in terms getting more people out to the theater to see it, wanting to in action.l heroes edward: what do you think was the best american war movie of era?ilent anjuli: oh, gosh that's really hard. i do love the big parade. film. a great very powerful. brian: so these scenes really the sonthe emotion, that comes home and the son that died. anjuli: yeah, absolutely. brian: can you explain what the father is doing here? theli: actually, that's boss! mr. merwin and the one who office.omplained in his it's interesting that you don't his sonreunited with who was on k.p. duty. edward: but isn't it interesting not the reunion scenes do
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depict soldiers coming back with trauma. anjuli: yes. edward: where physical or mental trauma. anjuli: i think that's definitely worth noting. brian: and here we see the sacrifices of the battle. edward: right. for a very powerful movie its time. anjuli: yes. absolutely. brian: this is a scene from new the parade that took place along fifth avenue. this?ow big of a deal was edward: it was huge. there were two new york the 27th, one was the national guard came back before the 77th. parade, there was some concern of 17th being all would not get a parade. then assistant secretary of the navy franklin d. roosevelt as teddy roosevelt who was intervenedial mascot to make sure that the 77th parade because they
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felt that these guys were the real new yorkers. who came fromones the -- from the streets. brian: again, this is taking place in midtown manhattan along iconic scenessome still familiar for those who are in new york today. emotions were happening? again, this is in 1919. so a few months after the war came to an end. edward: there's a really cartoon that i saw in a newspaper from the time which, it depicts the division coming back on the ship and it depicts the statue of liberty reaching out to embrace very powerfuls a emotional moment for new yorkers. it was a personal moment, but it also was a moment to show you is no longerk american because we have all of these people from different
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cultures, different different societies and aregions and yes, we america. this is what america is about. great prideent of theall immigrants, for great city that is depicting a way forward. brian: anjuli singh what is your takeaway from this silent film? what do you think americans a learn? later need to anjuli: you know, i think the job ofally does a great capturing the emotion of the just, you know, families saying goodbye to their loved ones who they might never just the and then powerful bonds that the soldiers form in battle. i think those are things that are just as relevant today as they were back then. i think this film shows that things about war and the human experience that really never change. lengel, aboutard
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the "lost battalion" your researched thisreache topic? edward: it's the quintessential story i think and the human story. it's -- it really transcends world war i. it's not about world war i and about cliches that developed later on. men who wenthese into these terrible experiences something that was transcendent, that was powerful, that was uplifting, which was other.ove for each but they also carried away toons that they struggled cope with. some like charles couldn't take anymore. george struggled with this for the rest of his life. they said his personality changed. alvin york also struggled with a lot of trauma. into takingfocus it his celebrity, using all the money that he received to
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the less fortunate. and he found some peace that way. about thatething shows us that each story is individual. and as we see in this film, we seemen, we see women, we individuals from different backgrounds, whether ethnicities, faiths as the case may be. all together.them there's some that are notably absent. about african-americans being absent from this. women are very carefully relegated into a domestic role that womenn't show had an active role as well that they played. so there are certainly it.tations to a lot of limitations. but it's also a forward-looking film i think. shaking your head, you say yes? anjuli: i absolutely agree with that. capture yout does think that period? anjuli: in terms of the filmmaking itself i would say
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it's the type of film that you would expect to see in theaters at that time. absolutely. brian: never in finer company, the latest book by edward lengel ed, thank you very much for us and film historian anjuli singh, to both of you we appreciate your time, your insights and sharing 80 minutes of this silent film here on c-span 3's american history tv. we appreciate it. much.: thank you so >> sunday on the presidency, ladies' historian carl sferrazza anthony describes how presidents' wives have influenced through fashion. from martha washington to mamie eisenhower. here's a preview. contrast, is mamie eisenhower who had lived in europe, had been the wife of a five star general, but who
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thought of herself as a neighbor and really was in many ways and she, of course, famously helps unwittingly to make pink the most popular color the color institute homee time in textiles, in tiles,refrigerators, spatulas, everything is being made in -- in mamie pink or pink as it was called. >> you can watch more on first aties' fashion sunday 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on the presidency. watching american history tv, only on c-span 3. >> monday night, on the david, thers, administrator of the national telecommunications and information administration, trumpses the administration's spectrum policy. he's interviewed by
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communications executive senior editor howard buskirk. >> i wanted to shift gears to spectrum because i know we all love to talk about spectrum. 5g is a headline almost every day now. is the u.s. going to win the 5g? to >> well, we're in it, that's for sure. we are in the trump spending a lot of time looking at the data and seeing what we can do to help the private sector get where it needs to be to make sure america retains its leadership in wireless. i think if you ask people around world, we're the undisputed leader in 4g lte. first, we deployed it nationwide in a way that was holistic and brought broadband subscribers across the country. now, we're trying to leverage the investments that were made our privatetry by sector. let's do the same in 5g. but we have competition. and korea are absolutely trying their best to be first to nationwide ubiquitous 5g as well and it's going to be a race, but we're confident that
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american industry, american private sector is >> descendents of presidents from james monroe to gerald r. ford convened in washington, d.c. for the presidential site summit, hosted by the white house historical association. next, an interview with susan ford bales, the daughter of president ford. this is about 15 minutes. >> susan ford bales, how did your life change in august 1974? [laughter] ms. bales: drastically. first of all, i grew up in alexandria in the same house that i came home from the hospital, columbia hospital, and never moved until i moved into the white house. i already had secret service protection. back then, my mother didn't, but i did because of the threat from the sla. i had secret service protection and my mother didn't, which was such a strange phenomenon. the most exciting part of it was


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