tv WWII Films of the First Motion Picture Unit CSPAN October 7, 2017 10:30pm-11:38pm EDT
cracks during world war ii, the army air corps first motion picture unit produced over 300 training films. the unit was composed entirely of industry professionals and many featured hollywood stars, like james stewart, ronald reagan, clark gable. next on american history tv the national archives hosted this hour-long event. >> today we are broadcasting live from the national archives building in washington, d.c. welcome. glad you are here with us either youtube.r online on before we begin i would like to give you some instructions on
participate. for those of you have joined us on-site, welcome. we will take your questions. we ask that you hold on to them until the end of the presentation. if you can, please use the microphones so we can capture your voice online. for those of you watching questions. can ask log into the chat feature of this youtube channel and type your questions in. i will then ask the questions at the end of the session. you will find to hotlinks. one will take you to presentation the other to live captioning. today's program is entitled --]ld war ii and the first -- they work in the national
archives motion picture preservation laboratory. they perform preservation work and recordsctures held at the national archives. before joining the 11th 2006, audrey worked with the film collection at a college. completed her education at washington university, earning a masters in history with a certificate in archives and records management. it is a pleasure to have them return to highlight their work. please welcome our presenters audrey and heidi. [applause]
available on the main page of our youtube channel. how did we end up with the first motion picture unit? there was an urgent need to train millions of men very quickly. an effective and efficient method that could also be used for recruitment and morrell. when the united states ramped up production of munitions and aircraft, the united states military turned to film to teach men now to use them. demand, and march 1942 the commander of air forces devised a plan with jack warner of warner bros. studios to create a separate filmmaking unit for the army and air force. remember, the army was only a branch.
it depended on the army signal corps for their needs. they believed they needed their own film making unit. to promote itself as a distinct unit. the idea of the first major motion picture unit was born. they recruited members from the studios.the ronald reagan, william holden, clark table, whose films can be seeing today. the army-air force contracted warner others to make several films to serve their needs. at the top of the list was a recruitment film to recruit ehrman to fly the 10th of airplanes.f lieutenant james stewart, you probably recognize him, was the
the army air force. i cannot speak from long service because i've only been in the air force a year and a half but i want to talk you about what it has to offer. right now, the greatest mass globalization in the history of the world is taking place. men from farms, towns, single men, married then, brothers, sweethearts, businessmen, factory men, students from high school and college, at from everywhere they are mobilizing in joining up. this war we are fighting today, tomorrow, and the next day, until we win is a war of the air. that.ole world knows our factories know that. interceptors, light bombers, media mummers, rolling out of the factories. fighting planes this
year. 100,000 fighting planes next year. millionthem flying, 2 men. now, that is where you come in. the army-air force needs 15,000 captains, 40,000 lieutenants, 35,000 flying sergeants. how about it? ♪ >> sorry. the warner brothers recruitment films was made before the motion activated. not invented until 1943. the film starts -- stars burgess meredith. you might know him better as the penguin from batman and he is a actor,c actor, theater already been in an adaptation of "of mice and men" and of course,
ronald reagan in the bottom right hand corner. the film emphasizes everyone as a role to play. actually ideal for gunner.tion of rear most of those as red gunners and double sydni come in roles. ronald reagan was the chief personnel officer. in july of 1943, the first motion picture unit began production in in hollywood. by unit was mostly staffed hollywood veterans, writers, producers, technicians, and actors. the unit operated like any hollywood studio with one major difference, all of its members were in uniform. bit to runut to be a down for the purposes so they moved to another studio.
it had joined the army signal cold core. comedy producer and responsible for the "our gang" series. 1943, they reduced -- produce their first film which showed pilots examining their mistakes in the afterlife. in addition to the recruit and films, the first major motion picture unit was also in charge motion.eeing combat incorporated into the films and used for intelligence purposes. they had a very important job and work on the front lines. iss next, the complete film
20 minutes and can be found on our youtube channel. we will show you about six minutes today. >> well, the big day finally -- sound] -- >> sorry -- ♪ >> this is the first motion in california. here we produce inspirational films which graphically illustrate what we are fighting for, what we are fighting against, i and while we are fighting with. today we face a task of training men by the millions. ever-increasing numbers against the enemies. the maximum number of men and the minimum amount of time. to inspire lit as well as instruct.
activating many specialized organizations such as this. mainly from the motion picture industry company men of the first motion picture unit. writers, directors, actors, electricians, cameramen, sound recorders. men carefully chosen from among the most efficient film technicians available. men with long years of training in the art and science of major motion pictures. while they are making pictures for the army, the army is making soldiers of them. first and foremost they are soldiers. they've got to do their job the army way. they have to be strictly g.i. from director to finished film, the course of the major motion richer film is charted by the office. the script is broken down,
converted to men, money, materials. the production office coordinates and expedite the operations of many different departments that make up the first major motion picture unit. none have proved more effective than words. words are particularly potent when used by the major picture writer. , vital, compelling. possibilities for visual education are endless. virtually unexplored. the soldier writers of the first motion picture unit work with collaborating agencies to structures.ctive these are the sound stages of the first major motion picture unit. especially structured, soundproofed, it air-conditioned. covers an area of 78,000 square
feet. 236 single stage measuring feet long and 46 feet wide, as many as four production units can operate simultaneously. here is one section where filming is about to begin on filming train project 226, training flight. final check and director calls. >> here we go. >> rolling. -- bill readings -- bell rings] >> the art department shows how to war.ges detailed sketches, architectural floor plans, blueprints. miniature models of sets built to scale.
exact replicas and every respect. here is a model of the said you saw on stage five. africa. this preplanning saves precious man-hours and materials and allows training films that are economical as well as effective. here is another model of headquarters somewhere in the south pacific. 10-24.the project japanese zero the fighter. >> glad to have you with us, lieutenant. you.ad to have >> we could use you. >> cigarette? i asked thank you, sir. >> how was the flight over? >> a nice airplane. >> maybe we can count on you not to shoot any down. >> i did not have any plans, sir.
>> you mean jet pilots? >> i mean american pilots. unfortunate ability to cut off -- of an enemy. here, members of a bomber crew are in training project number 1010. emergency care of paratroop casualties. application of heavy grease paint. then the other chemicals and strokes of a blending brush to make them look like this on the screen. narrator: not many months ago, these serious soldier artists were the very men who put life and laughter in mickey mouse. today they turn their attention to technical things. the innerworkings of flight
instruments. things the student or men must know and the animated sequence of a training film can teach. details thenical camera cannot capture in totality are authentically illustrated in the drawings of these artists. no matter how unusual the article or product needed for a film, the property man has to tow where to get it or how make it. the warehouse and museum houses thousands of assorted objects. at a moments notice he can provide a before bag, boomerang, pedestal, or bananas. clip you just watched, you heard instructional,
operational, inspirational and above everything the films were practical. addressing specific needs of the army-air force. one urgent need was some of the violet failure to tell the difference tween japanese and american airplanes, leading to incidents of friendly fire. the solution was recognition of the japanese fighter. captured the fighter as well as lieutenant ronald reagan. you saw an excerpt but the real utility of the film comes from it animated sequences showing the difference between the he-40 and the zero which i highlighted on the screen. these are accompanied by a dramatic story.
showing a pilot to really knows his stuff making an all too common mistake. >> the day finally came. the flyer was on his own. do not expect too much, lieutenant. non-on your first day. see nothing? what sort of a plane do see? friend or enemy? or zero? now is the time to remember your recognition. round dale? is he? in-line engine? t-40. or does it have an air scoop? 20 tl? radial engine? if it has, then it is a zero. maybe come closer.
rub it in. you have got it coming to you. the end, he vindicated himself following the identification checklist and downing a zero. the copy from that comes from library.d reagan another famous face in the motion picture unit was clark gable, who joined to honor his late wife carole lombard who had recently died in a plane wreck. after completing the rigorous candidate officer school, he was in command of the six major motion richer unit operating the first bombers to england. he flew combat missions over germany, earning the air medal and distinguished iron clasp. and the footage from
-- was used in films produced by clark gable. he also narrated a film recruiting men to be in the air up." titled "wings ♪ flying fortress. now visiting the pacific. pretty, isn't it? it has been flying for 3000 miles. unfortunately, it is lost. it is this man's fault. his nerve is gone. everything he has taught has left him. ] minous music
♪ >> pity is they got through their objective. had to fight off half a dozen planes besides. now, they are lost on the way back. one week late. too bad. for our side. $350,000. was worth i don't know. how much would you take for your life? why did this man get your job? isn't there an x-ray machine it can look into minutes a "he will do." guess, there is such a machine that looks into man's mind, hearts, and salsa and find them adequate or not. school.candidates situated in florida.
i sustain the wings. theirmen and their minds, they and their discipline on the hope that we will always keep them flying. test theseis school men? how does it expose those who cannot lead and teach those who can lead? where are you do we get those men? that is important enough to know. >> explicitly designed to weed out the men who could not perform under the pressure of combat. in the next film, we can feel subjectedecruits were to. christ give unit. how is your mother? estate agent,eal
mr.? you are looking round is if the place. buy keep your head straight. 45 degree angle. jump. how old are you? gin?inkles under that two? two more wrinkles for them? if duchess just up and they are. get it up. way up. it's an wrinkles and not chin. more recalls. when i tell you to jump away dejected sigh. jump. mr.?did you come down for wipe that smile off your face? through and on the ground. step on it. have you done? march. all stop you are in it now, mr. food. or the next six weeks until you are upper classmate. until returning from mess, return at double time. every waking minute is accounted so and deliver only arranged you must hurry, hurry, hurry. you will be lucky if you can manage.
you are not privileged to be or drink in any public place. you cannot even go out of your room. this necessary? >> you know it is necessary, but it is not for you. you are too dignified. maybe you have your pride. that is all right, mr. full. just resign. nothing will happen to. you will go back to your old rank. nobody will hold it against you, unless you hold it against yourself. but we want to find out now whether you have been picked to command can learn to obey. the soldier who cannot stand up under strict regulations, discipline, and restrictions, cannot discipline himself or others. this is where we must find out. not here when all these lives are involved.
>> remember, clark gable would have undergone this kind of training himself. now what will get it back to audrey. the next two films feature two parts of the same process. gathering and analyzing aerial photograph intelligence. they don't have very interesting titles. interestinghave titles because they were made for internal use, so they tell us exactly what they are. the first is a process training program focusing on the names of participation departments. parts of the film are really drive it there is a strong attempt to overlay a storyline featuring a reconnaissance pilot
seeing an old friend. you can see captain tim grover on the left hand his friend in the middle. he serves as the audience surrogate who listens as captain grover explains photographic intelligence for bombarded aviation. it also features a sherlock homes-type photo analyst. you see him in the last two stills. of basil rathbone series sherlock holmes movies were being shown at this time so this was good for young trainees. popularityar with growing and a cachet of productions in 1943.
the military by the end of the year, you might know him best if you'd do not know him from this he was in the "shane" laterc on. demonstratesm thelock abilities as investigator reads the photographs. >> just a moment, captain. i noticed the hamburg area is being covered exhaustively. i am curious to know why. what are you after? i can't understand the blacked out area. >> i wondered about that myself. >> any ideas? >> you know, this shadow here? be the top of a fence or a long wall. >> it is a roof, i think.
sometimes empty, sometimes full. >> does not make sense. >> any clues from other intelligence sources? >> no. i checked underground, refugees, people you know the 10 territory. >> i guess i do get going. >> been not keep the colonel waiting. >> no. >> wait a minute! look here. what do you make this? >> looks like another shadow for only this one is longer than the first one. >> you don't suppose -- >> of course! it is a roof, too. >> that is no pond, that is a drain. >> a drink for wet reservoir >> a water tunnel. look! drain. the
long shaped like this, into neutral. >> i can see the other end of the route out. under camouflage. >> what kind of buildings you think it is? right testing base. >> for submarines? >> that's right. >> captain smith. inave been waiting for you navy. >> i'm sorry, sir. sir, it looks like captain smith caught onto something we were looking for. >> what is that? >> a testing base for submarines. a wind tunnel for aircraft. >> that far from the herbert? >> to test. >> we never thought of looking so far inland. they manufacture here and then test the money summary. >> well, captain, i will have to forgive you for keeping me
waiting. >> we should have figured it out long ago. i see it all now. as it there were no camouflage their at all. >> will, what happened? >> waterlogged long enough. today get it? >> they blew it to hell and gone. ♪ thehe second film is what motion picture unit would describe as inspirational. rather than focus on the details, the pilot seeks to tell viewers how they should feel about their work. the film stars a young william bill cummings. resentful whent
he is assigned to be a recognizance pilot rather than a pilot as he expected. he sees recognizance as the too far from the action, particularly after his father was killed in action in he wants revenge on japanese planes. in our first clip, lieutenant cummings gets a taste of the excitement he craves when he is attacked by fighter planes. [indiscernible] better to the ears, but nothing you can do about it. you do your job is well and is can, keep your peace to yourself. you fly a milk run to korea. jungles, beaches, where a tree
is a tree and sand is a beach and the war seems far away. you realize men are fighting and dying in the pictures you get. more months past. today you are headed back. you have photographed it so many times you know it like the palm of your hand but you have seen an airplane. as far as you are concerned, the korea run is a waste of time. you are nodding off. you're getting close. then you see trouble. five-zero. you drop. they do not want you to photograph that there patrol. why? your oxygen is gone. down you go. without oxygen, you can only
stay conscious for 30 seconds. your heart hammers. you try to keep from lacking out. you have a job to do. photograph that aerodrome below you. get your camera. put up everything you've got. your camera is running. you look down. there is nothing they are. you can't figure it out. get in those clouds! exciting scene concludes with lieutenant cummings leading
causingnese planes and one of them to crash into the water, which fills them with pride by gets them grounded. continuing despite eating under attack actually concluded with 200 down planes. alright.e out the destruction of that japanese air flight time you your lesson. now you know the war will end that much sooner. >> first lieutenant cummings, distinguished service cross. >> congratulations, lieutenant cummings. you can say you were responsible for the destruction of 200 enemy
aircraft. your father would've been very proud of you. >> yes, sir. >> you have been on 52 missions. now they are going to send you home to instruct. spillof the yarns you can to your kids. because brother, you have been to war. >> she wants to know what it was like. her, someday. but right now you do not feel like talking. >> was it that bad? >> it was not bad at all. course, what would i do without this? ♪ narrator: the film you have seen
just now is fiction, of course. but the adventures i went through were real. these are the two men who did the things on which it was based. this is the most decorated recon pilot. he forced the jack playing -- the japanese plane into the water. ds seat.he they are, leave and then they will return to the south pacific. is there anything you would to say to them? >> i'm not good at this, i get nervous. >> not as many automobiles or reckless drivers. ad-on their.ittle a year after this, he lost his own brother to the war. his brother was a navy fighter pilot killed in action. william holden went on to film a
string of classics, most notably mostetted boulevard." -- notably "sunset boulevard." >> the first motion picture unit also recognized the power of animation. animatedoe was an character with voice provided by anc, probably doing contract work. joe only appears briefly in a lesson for gunners. you can see much of the film is lesson and training gunners to anticipate the position of an enemy fighter and
accurately target it. in the following clip, we see trigger joe putting his training to work. >> remember these three points, shooting only when he is attacking you and is in range. and then the target seat of your bombers. estimate the approach angle and apply the correct deflection. that is the story. think you can do it? >> ready? here it comes! well? >> goes kind of fast, don't it? only a few seconds.
>> how about some practice on a few slower ones. >> ok, if yours are you got straight. >> oh, i got it. >> is a plane. >> first i see if it is an enemy plane, i attack it. not yet, but he looks suspicious. line-up and wait for him to get in range. hold! hold it! i have a lot of figuring. i am going this way, he is going this way. 90 degrees. in range. i guess i can shoot. ok, let him come. hold it, that is to seconds. >> now he is back here. right there. start him again! how did i do? one fullout taking
speed? >> ok, why not? first i got to identify him. looks like he is an enemy, all right. looks like the same guy. maybe i will get him this time. approach the tail, -- >> trigger! look at the plane? well, i will be a sad sack of -- ♪ joe was very popular and effective. one film journalists said it could replace 14 days and 12 minutes.
the production team included actors later with upa, the home -- themcgill and frank frankf mr. magoo, and thomas. there were also lay him to and live in the jungle, which teach men how to survive in the other, desert, and environments until rescued. >> the jungle. it looked so soft and easy from maybe-25 upstairs. but downstairs it looks very different. there is a five-man crew in somewhere.
>> this is sergeant ford, a gunner. used to work in spokane, washington. the woods. a day in since all except him and the pilot bailed out together, there is a good chance of being hurt yells. >> hello! hello! >> no answer. not at first. a little later he hears somebody else. >> hey, no! >> then he season. the navigator. a steady, dependable guy who was a high school football coach before the war. a good man to have around in an emergency. >> hello there. >> how are you, are you all
right? >> ok, fine. >> sergeant ford is about leaving his parachute in the treetop. >> he feels it will be a good marker for a searching plane to spot. five accounted for. they are lucky to have land close by. if not, it would've taken a lot longer to get together. "you can't live in the jungle jungle" and live in the was about being stuck in the jungle, some following procedure and one not. there is following procedure are much better off. >> laying it smart. they are eating, 10 miles away harrison is standing and
drooling. he drools four minutes. anything a monkey will eat is good for a man. a simple jungle rule it took him time to see. he is so busy he does not see trouble coming. storm clouds. the crew sees them though, and they are picking their way downstream, one of the fastest, easiest ways to travel. they do not waste any time getting too high ground. happenjungle, floods fast. if it looks like rain, no time should be lost providing shelter. you can build aileen-two -- you leading, lean-to.
you can cover it with a parachute. since it is not completely waterproof you should cover the parachute with banana leaves which are best if you can find them. start at the bottom in work up so the rain will run off easily. with no is caught short time to rig up adequate protection. he could cover his shelter with large leaves but that might be using his head. a fire would be a big help. you would think you would not know to strip the wet bark from his one or whittle some dry shavings. naturally, his fire is a great success. and so he sits and shivers and
soaks. a little common sense, he too could've had a fire under cover in and he, too, could have been warm and dry. >> after the crew has located the plane, with the hope of the local village they ultimately rescue harrison who has at that point contracted malaria. the village throws a party form. in a few days, harrison will be well enough to travel and head for the coast where they will be picked up. ♪ >> well, that is it. that is the works. you have seen the jungle book
ways. it can be tough or easy. tough if you do not know what you are doing and have not got your equipment. a lot easier if you follow the. you can live in the jungle, even alone and like it. you have to be prepared and you cannot he afraid. there is only one answer to fear. knowledge. so if you do land in the jungle, then landed and live. ♪ hefline again, the van referenced doing things by the book and pay did have a little book on how to survive in the jungle and the arctic. the end have flynn served as a -- van heflin served as a combat
cameramen during the war. another film about negro,rican african-american men as a powerful force. the negro soldier was also shown to white soldier. it was also likely that "wings for this man" was used in a similar way. preparing men to deploy as violence in segregated units in air forces. several points in the film acknowledge the racism faced by the men. for the tesco gi program -- for tuskgogee program to even
be used, they had to recognize the racism. narrator: in addition to fighter groups, this began to train men for medium bombers. that too was a pioneer. it proved you cannot judge a man here by the color of his eyes are the shape of his notice. you judge him by the way he flies. here is the answer. here's the answer to the propaganda of the japs and nazis. here is the answer. wings for this man. here is the answer. wings for these americans. squadron out of tuskegee. writing the mustangs.
easy for these men. they were pioneers, yet no pioneer has it easy. they fought lies, heartbreak, they won. now they fight the enemy. on his own soil. [gunfire] >> that was some of the combat footage that would have been captured by units trained by the first motion picture unit unit. the accomplishments of the tuskegee airmen helped make way for the integration by order of president truman in 1956. in his presentation you have only seen a small part of what is held at the national archive.
70th anniversary of the unit. almost all of the films we should today are on youtube and their entirety. we hope to be adding more as we digitize. you can also visit the research room at our facility in college park. if there is a reference copy you can view it that day, if there is not yet a reference copy will be scanned by the researchers and made available. if you are interested in reading more, here is an article we rely on an hour research. that cunningham is working on a book about the unit and mark betancourt has a book that is engaging that is available online currently. there is also a documentary made
in 1977 that is a really good overview of the unit. our presentation will be available online so it you can come find it and get all of this information off of that. here's the address for the our youtubehive and channel where you can find more information about the films both military and civilian held at the national archive. now we have some time for questions. thank you so much. >> that was so informative and interesting. i invite anybody who is in our audience, let me, pierce liking it on-camera. anybody with this in the theater if you have any questions, think about it. we ask you to use the microphone
or maybe we can read the questions. in the meanwhile i have a question that came from our online audience and it kind of captured my imagination. she asked, did the first major have a patch for the unit? >> yes. it is on wikipedia. it is a little cartoon that looks like it was done by a disney animator. it looks like snow white and the seven dorms. he is piloting a little fighter plane. i do not know if it was a patch bed it was an insignia that was adopted. a motto that was fil-m." 'em, with
>> that was good, i'm glad you had an answer so fast! anyone else? >> [indiscernible] >> the question was, were there any classified films? crimes i am not an expert in the closet gay snow information, but anything from world war ii i think is declassified now but there might be exception for technology. there were a lot of things classified because one of the things they did was they had a model, there is a great film that shows it. that film was classified. they would make a film to prepare pilots to go to a
bombing run. they had a camera that would run over it to show where they needed to go. that would all be classified now. [indiscernible question] before america got involved, did -- create films during the >> the question is whether the first motion picture unit unit would have sent people out to capture films before america got into war? the first motion picture unit would not have done that because it had not been film jet but some of the people may have worked as newsreel photographers
or another capacities where they would have been in europe capturing that footage of news .ilms so it is very likely >> if you are interested in military films for the battle of britain there is the "why we by frankries created capra for the army signal division. it is available on our youtube channel if you like to view them. [indiscernible question] >> i can't say for sure but that was my impression, they were sort of motivational and widely used. broad question. let's see how you can do.
off-topic but how much combat footage is available from world war ii and indexed by date, location, or unit? full series.is a signal corps. rg-111 is signal corps. they are all described. you can look for the descriptions and our catalog. and everything they were filming. the rolf footage for everything the signal corps was filming. are different record groups. the marine corps i think his record 428. or maybe fortuitous navy. coast guard.
>> sorry. >> we get them confused each branch of the military was collecting films and they would've ended up at the national archives. there are a lot of different record groups. >> and there is a lot. >> [indiscernible question] did they track the pows -- treated much worse -- i am sorry. that was a question about the treatment of the pows in the
we certainly -- did not exist after the war because hal roach came back. he started making films again. all of the men who worked there went back to their regular jobs but the air force did continue to make films. it was just not in that exact place or that particular formulation. but they continued with air force films and they took very good care of their film so all of the films are generally in very good condition. you asked if the first major motion picture unit disbanded at the end of the war. >> i know they were also known i the base unit but as far as can tell, i did not find references to that unit after the war.
so obviously, in europe i -- [indiscernible] -- -- t britain, question, i actually do not know a lot about this. the question was about whether britain and the allied countries had their own film units. the answer would be yes. 70th anniversary of de-day. restoration, a combined effort of the u.s. and
its allies. also famously, the footage from footage actually not that we shot. it is that we got copies from. so they did have their own. it was important to both document and training and pharrell purposes. morale purposes. >> went to think was developed it was most important for photography? >> i am not sure what the most important would be. the question is, yeah, they developed a lot of done cameras that they would shoot in sync with the guns on the airplanes.
that is the only piece of technology i can remember reading about in my research by the first motion picture unit really did -- they innovated with healthy used techniques with movie making to me the needs of the military organization and a very entertaining and effective way and that is kind of the biggest innovation of the motion picture unit. >> great. thank you so much. great questions. recordpose of the new program is to teach you about the records programs and teach you how to use some. i think this presentation has fulfilled that goal. if we did not get to your remember,f you can't please note this video
recording is available online on the youtube channel. on behalf of the national archives i want to thank you for joining us today. [applause] announcer: you are watching american history tv, all weekend at every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. >> ohio state university randolph roth top two american history tv. he is the author of "americ
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