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A dull, dry, even annoying telling of what should have been an interesting story.
John Huston's WW2 documentary on the Aleutians campaign.
I was intrigued by this documentary as the Aleutians campaign is not covered much in history books or documentaries. Directed by the great John Huston, with some rare footage, what can go wrong?
Well, actually, a lot. The biggest problem is that John Huston decided to narrate the movie himself. His delivery is incredibly off-putting: flowery, bombastic, verbose and all about style rather than substance. Yes, it was a propaganda film, so a bit of salesmanship was required, but a bit more subtlety would have helped the message go down.
The content itself, while showing the daily operations on the US forces in the Aleutians, especially the USAAF, well, doesn't have much of the bigger picture. All we know is the US are on one island, Adak, and the Japanese are on another, Kiska, and the Americans are bombing Kiska on a regular basis. (Don't get me started on how many times Huston says "Kiska"! I grew sick of the word quite quickly). That's it.
I decided to watch some wartime documentaries made by John Huston during World War II starting with this one which took place at the outpost of Adak concerning a bombing mission over Japan-occupied Kiska. Huston narrates with some additional voice overs by his father, Walter. Suitable mood music permeates most of the film which adds to the color footage's appeal. When the actual flying sequences are shown, one gets some sense of excitement though since dialogue is kept to a minimum and there are few explosions, it doesn't seem Hollywood-made to provide unbridled joy to victory. Worth seeing. Watched this on Internet Archive.
With the usual patriotic music, narrating is done by then soldier and "Chinatown" director John Houston (now iconic director). Daily life is shown of troops assigned to stop Japan from controlling Alaska. Alaska had a series of islands that weren't that far from Japan. Although this won academy awards, its fairly typical until near the end. Houston almost died in a bombing run against the Japanese during attacks.
SEE the entire film:
Late in the film, an excellent narration of a typical bombing run. Its well filmed. You feel like you are really there. Kiska island was, at the time, occupied by 10,000 Japanese soldeirs, dug in the earth like moles to avoid the bombs preparing the way for a land assault by the U.S.
"Director John Huston, [img]http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSyFypuRdvArdcYdsA0mpa_0Y1bVqouMMaVkbN5hOBTG32VCjgE[/img]
and much later [img] http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQW9MPsPqc9U_YDg7_JKDK8nsJtcfWum3s371WFOwf1Lycw9CfY[/img]
while a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1943, creates an Academy Award winning documentary, which he narrates with assistance from his actor father Walter, treating of the Armed Forces' successful effort to prevent the fall of the Aleutian Islands
to advancing Japanese troops who had captured several islets."---www.archive.org
Lots of aerial bomber footage of planes taking off and landing on the steel carpet runway
erected in just 3 days on a deserted, lonely island.
[img]http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSCBVFMroFZIQKQI5_jYeU4Crk19oSZ5GFF3BTaAEJA8exh1S-s[/img] Only raven birds fly the skies.
Director: John Huston
Producer: John Huston
Narrator: John Huston
Production Company: U.S. War Department
Audio/Visual: sound, color
Complete credited cast:
John Huston ... Narrator (voice)
Walter Huston ... Voices of officers (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Milton Ashkin ... Himself - USAAF Fighter Pilot (as Maj. Milton Ashkin)
Lyle A. Bean ... Himself - USAAF Fighter Pilot (as Lt. Lyle A. Bean)
Jack Chennault ... Himself - USAAF Fighter Pilot (as Col. Jack Chennault)
C.M. McCorkle ... Himself - USAAF Commander (as Col. C.M. McCorkle)
Hawley P. Nill ... Himself - USAAF Fighter Pilot (as Lt. Hawley P. Nill)
William Prince ... Himself - USAAF Commander (as Col. William Prince)
George I. Radell ... Himself - USAAF Fighter Pilot (as Lt. George I. Radell)
Henry J. Strenkowski ... Himself - USAAF Fighter Pilot (as Lt. Henry J. Strenkowski)
REVIEWS of the film:
1 A official documentary movie about the misson of the US forces on an island of the Aleutians, from which US bombers are attacking the Japanese occupied island Kiska. The movie includes footage from a bombing raid over Kiska with B-17 and B-24 bombers.-- Written by Stephan Eichenberg
2 The views of old aircraft in action would be of great interest to aviation fans. For most people, I'm sure this is film will be the only views of the Aleutian Islands most people will ever see! Certainly require viewing for any WWll buff!
NOTES about the film:
1 "The work was made over a six month period, and is climaxed by the preparations for, followed by an actual filming of, a bombing run over Japanese-occupied Kiska, wherein Huston nearly lost his life, and which is significant for its combat footage and for the atmosphere of suspense present in the viewer who wonders if all will return safely."
Color:Color (archive footage)
Folks, if it were not for these guys
on these Alaskan islands, we could all be wearing kimonos and sipping saki!