The Negro Soldier (1944)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

During WWII, the U.S. government produced numerous documentaries, often under the supervision of Frank Capra, designed to build support for the war. One of the more curious entries in this effort was The Negro Soldier. The structure of the film is that of a black minister who preaches a sermon to his all-black congregation. Over the course of 40 minutes, the minister recounts the contributions of blacks in American military history, from Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre to the men who served in WWI, along the way touching on the War of 1812, the Civil War, the exploration of the West and the building of the railroad, the Spanish-American War, and the building of the Panama Canal. Throughout, the filmmakers blend archival footage and Hollywood re-creations to illustrate the preacher's words, and even include a re-creation of the destruction by the Nazis of a WWI monument in France to African-American soldiers. The film then slips into a more general history, telling of Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and the roles blacks have played in such fields as law, medicine, global exploration, music, education, art, academia, and athletics. The second half of The Negro Soldier moves into the present, describing the crimes of the Germans and Japanese and filling the screen with graphic images of hangings, bombings, and bodies; following the sentimental story of a young man through basic training; and wrapping up with a slew of images showing African-Americans serving in all aspects of military life, from infantrymen and tank destroyers to engineers and quartermasters. The Negro Soldier was written by Carlton Moss, who would become an important figure in African-American independent cinema, and the following year the U.S. Navy released a follow-up of sorts, The Negro Sailor.
Documentary , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
United States Department of War Special Service Di


Carlton Moss
as Pastor

Critic Reviews for The Negro Soldier

All Critics (1)

It shamelessly rewrote American history to create a utopian environment where racism never existed.

July 5, 2007
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for The Negro Soldier

For a film that was made in 1944 this film was actually very good I thought. I never realised that such a film had put African Americans in such a bright light. I find it interesting that for a war film the message was told inside a church. I learned some things about what African Americans activities in American History that I had never heard of before such as their involvement in the Revolutionary War or War of 1812. In some ways it did not seem realistic the way which they chose to tell the story such as the lady reading a long letter in the middle of a church service. This film also hardly touches on the Civil War. It practically skipped over the war. The footage was good.


This propaganda film is yet another work from Frank Capra, though he didn't actually direct this one. It was initially made to entice African Americans to join the army during World War II, but surprisingly encouraged men of all races to join up. It is a solid propaganda picture, and helped change the way blacks were portrayed on screen, making them more dignified and less comical or subservient than they had previously been shown. It is clear that chunks of history have been glossed over, but if the plan is to encourage blacks to fight for their country, maybe glossing over, omitting, and rewriting aspects if what their country did to them seems like the way to go. Still the fact that this film showed the positives aspects of black history in a time when they were often overlooked should showcase this film's worth.

Ken Scheck
Ken Scheck

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