Every episode of the series features an original segment that opens and closes the episode. Each segment incorporates photographs from the personal and family collections of the great directors, along with excerpts from their personal diaries and notes, with voice over by Capra, Ford, Huston and Wyler describing the making of the motion pictures.

HOLLYWOOD GOES TO WAR

Synopsis of Episodes 1 - 26

EPISODE 1
DECEMBER 7TH
remains an outstanding example of the use of edited images to overwhelm an audience.

SOLDIERS IN GREASEPAINT
tells the story of entertainers who traveled throughout the many theaters of combat during World War II and reveals how these dedicated performers played a major role in keeping morale high among American servicemen.

 

JOHN FORD
EPISODE 2 (COLOR)
THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY
While the commentary seems highly emotional today, Ford produced a rich and deeply felt film that captured the very intense emotions of a nation at war.

SEX HYGIENE
Outdated in some respects, this training film about the dangers of venereal disease is graphic and informative even today.

THIS IS KOREA
has been considered almost impossible to equal for its hard-bitten realism and front-line authenticity.

 

JOHN FORD
EPISODE 3
PRELUDE TO WAR
is an especially patriotic film that attempts to explain the events and causes leading up to America's entry into the war.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 4
THE NAZIS STRIKE
documents the growth of Nazism and the history of Germany leading to the rise of Hitler's Third Reich.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 5
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
documents the completion of the Nazi strategy of dividing and conquering Allied forces through the use of sophisticated propaganda.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 6
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
 
This very pro-British film describes in detail the lives of civilians; how they survived the onslaught of Luftwaffe bombs, the day-to-day routine of living underground in London, the descriptions of British industry, and how the women of Britain supported the war effort.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 7 & EPISODE 8
THE BATTLE OF RUSSIA
effectively explains the complexities of this specific campaign through diagrams and extraordinary footage of the siege of Leningrad and the battle of Stalingrad.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 9
THE BATTLE OF CHINA
offers a brief history of the country, why Japanese wanted to conquer it and the determination of the Chinese to oppose Japanese aggression at all costs.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 10
WAR COMES TO AMERICA
is considered one of the best visual histories of America ever made and catalogs the evolution of American opinion from total non-involvement to total commitment as the American people begin to consider the Nazis a direct threat to their security.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 11
ATTACK! THE BATTLE FOR NEW BRITAIN
brings a human quality to the normally faceless soldiers portrayed in most documentaries by showing their interaction before combat and then later as casualties during and after this fierce battle.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 12
KNOW YOUR ALLY: BRITAIN
pointed out the great sacrifices forced upon England by the war while highlighting the similarities and differences between Great Britain and the United States.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 13
THE NEGRO SOLDIER
was ordered by General Marshall to boost the morale of black troops and give white tgroops a history of black soldiers and black citizens in America.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 14 & EPISODE 15
TUNISIAN VICTORY
documents the strategy, the preparation, and the battle action, as well as taking time to show the troops celebrating Christmas, and ends with justifiable pride in an Allied victory of unprecedented proportion.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 16
KNOW YOUR ENEMY JAPAN
is a fascinating and highly informative film that dealt with the Japanese belief system and their way of life, a subject about which most Americans knew little.

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 17
HERE IS GERMANY
makes the point: "Just as our will for freedom is born of a heroic tradition, so the Germans' thirst for power springs from their historic past."

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 18
TWO DOWN AND ONE TO GO!
intones ominously that, although Hitler and Mussolini can be assigned to the trash bin of history, the menace of Hirohito looms. One to go!

ON TO TOKYO shows Allied Forces completing their mission in Europe and that it was now time to take the fight to the Japanese.

YOUR JOB IN GERMANY issues its warning: "You may see pretty scenery, but don't let it fool you. You are in enemy territory. Be alert. Be suspicious of everyone."

 

FRANK CAPRA
EPISODE 19 (COLOR)
REPORT FROM THE ALEUTIANS
is a straightforward account of the soldiers who manned the most remote outpost of the war, the Aleution Islands in the North Pacific, and the campaign that has been all but forgotten today.

 

JOHN HUSTON
EPISODE 20
THE BATTLE OF SAN PIETRO
is a vivid record of the horror of war, an engrossing account of the savage fighting between American and German forces for control of the Liri Valley in Italy.

DIARY OF A SERGEANT, starring Sgt. Harold Russell, was produced to show Americans the special problems faced by disabled servicemen as they returned to civilian life.

 

JOHN HUSTON
EPISODE 21 (COLOR)
THE MEMPHIS BELLE
records the final mission over Germany of the flying fortress "Memphis Belle" and her veteran crew.

 

WILLIAM WYLER
EPISODE 22 (COLOR)
THUNDERBOLT
, using wing-mounted cameras, shows the actions of the 57th Fighter Group during "Operation Strangle" which destroyed vital supply routes deep behind German lines.

 

WILLIAM WYLER
EPISODE 23
LET THERE BE LIGHT
, John Huston's legendary though long-suppressed documentary is an emotional account of shell-shocked soldiers in an army hospital.

 

JOHN HUSTON
EPISODE 24 (COLOR)
recognition and identification of the Japanese zero fighter
Reagan is eager beaver Lieutenant Saunders, who learns that he should have studied his lessons on plane spotting more carefully - especially when he almost shoots down one of our planes!

STILLWELL ROAD, narrated by Ronald Reagan, captures this almost forgotten moment in history where American forces, under the command of General "Vinegar" Joe Stillwell, constructed a 478-mile road from Ledo, Assam, into East Burma, achieving one of military engineering's greatest feats.

TARGET TOKYO, narrated by Ronald Reagan, made good use of combat footage to show American audiences the drama - and difficulty - of bombing Tokyo.

 

RONALD REAGAN
EPISODE 25 (COLOR)
COMBAT AMERICA
, as reviewed by Variety; "... relates the most sustained, exciting and deadly aerial battles yet to come from the cameras of the U.S. armed forces."

 

CLARK GABLE
EPISODE 26
FREEDOM COMES HIGH
was filmed to prepare Americans for the tragedies of war and the worst news of all, the telegram that meant someone you loved had been killed in combat.

PAYDAY, starring the animated charactoer Private Snafu as the worst soldier in the army, tells the story of how he squanders his pay on souvenirs, wine and women.

OUR JOB IN JAPAN was produced to educate and inform American occupation forces about the dangers of trusting the Japanese people.

SELECTED PERFORMANCES BY STARS OF STAGE AND SCREEN
Featuring: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, Dorothy Lamour, Loretta Young, Jane Withers, and Humphrey Bogart.
FRANK CAPRA

     
​      Designates a film that either won an Academy Award or was nominated for one.