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Ultimate Collections: World War II
Ultimate Collections World War II
Actor: n/a
Director: History Channel
Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2009     14hr 52min

World War II encompassed some of America s greatest triumphs and most bitter defeats. The History Channel® Ultimate Collections World War II is a comprehensive and intimate survey of this epic war featuring nearly 30 of it...  more »

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Movie Details

Actor: n/a
Director: History Channel
Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Educational, World War II, Military & War
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 03/31/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 14hr 52min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 10
SwapaDVD Credits: 10
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

The History Channel showcases what it does best
calvinnme | 12/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great ten disc set showcasing what the History Channel always did best in my opinion - document World War II. I haven't liked how the History Channel has "mainstreamed" its offerings over the last few years, and thus this set is a real treat for long time viewers. It's also great for your kids to watch if they think that history is boring - it will change their minds. The following are the set's contents:

World War II: The War in Europe - Part 1
This disc contains four episodes from War Chronicles, a multiple-episode series of war documentaries written and directed by Don Horan, and hosted and narrated by actor Patrick O'Neal. Running about 26 minutes each in length, the episodes included on this disc were produced in 1983 and 1985. They feature no interviews, just O'Neal and at times, an anonymous narrator who, inexplicable, drops in additional voice-over material explaining in detailed narration over the graphic archival footage, the various battle campaigns. Primitive visual aids are used to highlight the action which at times consist of just O'Neal, pointing at a map. The episodes included are:

The Greatest Conflict: From the German Blitzkrieg to the Allies' bloody battle for Berlin.

North Africa...The Desert War: Details the German attack on Kasserine Pass, where the British 1st Army and untested American troops faced the full force of Germany's seasoned Afrika Corps.

The Beachhead at Anzio: Follow the story of the Allied landing, the brutal German counterattack, and the final Allied offensive that would turn the tide of this historic battle.

D-Day...The Normandy Invasion: discusses the largest amphibious assault in world history.

World War II: The War in Europe - Part 2
A continuation of disc one material. The episodes included are:

Pursuit to the Rhine: The Allies thrust forward under tactical air support to break through German lines, and the enemy resistance ultimately crumbled.

The Bomber Offensive: Air War in Europe: The Allies launched this historic raid on a German munitions factory and ultimately paid an extraordinary price in men and machines, but this battle would prove to be a turning point.

The Battle of the Bulge: It was the largest pitched battle in American military history, the last major engagement of the European campaign, and the scene of some of the war's fiercest fighting, leading to a final blow against the Nazis.

The Battle of Germany: The final campaign of the European theater unfolded in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bulge with the British and Canadian offensive, the historic crossing of the Rhine at Remagen, and Eisenhower's final drive to Berlin.

World War II: The War in the Pacific - Part 1
Again, this is just O'Neal explaining in detailed narration over the graphic archival footage, the various battle campaigns. The episodes included are:

Island Hopping: The Road Back: Follow the epic story of the Allies' island-by-island Pacific campaign in which they utilized massive amphibious assaults.

Jungle Warfare: New Guinea to Burma: In the jungles of the Pacific, soldiers battled not only the Japanese, but malaria, heat exhaustion, and swarms of parasites.

Air War in the Pacific: Chronicling the war's first days through the suicidal Kamikaze attacks and the bombing missions that brought the war to the Japanese homeland, this documentary utilizes extensive air combat footage.

The Bloody Ridges of Peleliu: From the opening naval bombardment, to the hand-to-hand combat and vicious guerrilla warfare, this is the complete story of this brutal and historic battle.

A continuation of disc three. The episodes included are:

The Return to the Philippines: From MacArthur's strategy to the heroics of the ground troops, the 7th Fleet's naval forces, and the pilots of the Air Force, the saga of the Philippines is a story of unstoppable determination.

Okinawa...The Last Battle: Winston Churchill described it as the most intense and famous battle in military history. Witness the desperate, suicidal resistance of the Japanese in the final battle of the Pacific campaign.

In addition to the two War Chronicles episodes, this disc contains a 1995 episode of the Biography series, hosted by Jack Perkins. Perkins, who seemed to pop up on A&E every half hour in the 1990's, was a genial host with a trademark AM radio voice delivery that hooked people into watching his shows. Here, Perkins narrates a 45 minute tribute, with help from interviews with military historians, to Admiral William Halsey who led the Battle of the Bismarck Sea and helped neutralize the Japanese offensive.

Biography: General Douglas MacArthur: Return of a Legend
This disc contains another 50 minute A&E Biography episode, hosted by Jack Perkins, discussing the life and career of General Douglas MacArthur. This episode is narrated by noted actor Fritz Weaver:

General Douglas MacArthur: Return of a Legend: General Douglas MacArthur was one of America's greatest and most complex commanders, a warrior so tough and determined that he helped win World War II with a simple promise: "I shall return." Featuring rare footage and interviews with MacArthur's comrades, family, and friends, this Biography program reveals the man who remains a hero to millions.

Okinawa: The Final Battle
This disc contains a 50 minute documentary made in 1995, narrated by Fritz Weaver again, exploring the bloody battle in the Pacific.

Okinawa: The Final Battle: At Okinawa, over 250,000 people fought a desperate battle for control of the island, in which nearly half of them died. Dramatic footage, much of it unseen for decades, captures the chaos and destruction of this battle, and military historians probe its lasting legacy.

Empires of Industry: War Planes of World War II
This disc contains a 50 minute documentary, narrated by Peter Thomas, exploring the planes that were used during WWII. This 1998 documentary is part of the popular A&E Empires of Industry series:

War Planes of World War II: Flight was born in America at the turn of the century. But World War II saw more planes built in a single year - 300,000 - than had been built in the previous forty. Modern shots of restored aircraft, historic footage ranging from factory floors to dogfights, and interviews with pilots and designers recapture the aviation industry's finest hour.

Nuremberg: Tyranny on Trial
This disc contains a History Channel 1995 50 minute documentary, narrated by Paul Sparer, giving a detailed look at the war tribunals in Nuremberg.

Great Blunders of World War II - Part 1
This disc contains four, 21 minute episodes from The History Channel miniseries, Great Blunders of World War II. These compact little docs from 1998 are fascinating looks at the fatal mistakes made by the Axis powers, that aided the Allied victory:

The German Blunder at Dunkirk: The 1940 Blitzkrieg upon Europe drove the British Expeditionary Force into the sea at Dunkirk, but the reckless plan of attack turned the chance to destroy the British into history's greatest escape.

Hitler's Declaration of War on the U.S.: Even with Hitler's forces ravaging Europe, America hesitated to join the fight against him. All that changed, however, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and a foolish decision by Germany to ally with Japan.

The Pilot who Bombed London: One lost and confused German pilot mistakenly dropped his bombs on London, igniting what became known as the Blitz and pushing Britain's durability to its furthest limits.

Hitler's Flying Blunders: The Luftwaffe's lighting-fast, short-range fighter-bombers were used in support of highly mobile ground forces, a strategy which ultimately went horribly awry.

In addition to these four episodes, two additional episodes of Great Blunders of World War II are included: The Battle of the Bulge and A Bridge Too Far.

Great Blunders of World War II - Part 2
A continuation of the material on disc nine.

Japan's Mistakes at Midway: On June 4, 1942, the fanatical and efficient Japanese war machine wanted to finish off the U.S. Pacific Fleet, but their blind arrogance and underestimation of American willpower led them to disaster instead.

The Failure of the Kamikaze: Steeped in the ancient code of the Samurai, Kamikaze forces on land, sea, and air sacrificed themselves in battle in a desperate bid for victory that spelled ultimate doom for the Japanese Empire.

Death at Stalingrad: In Hitler's quest to take Stalingrad at all costs, he underestimated both the Russian winter and the steadfastness of the Russian people in the face of the Nazi threat.

Operation Sea Lion: In the wake of the British army's flight from France, the British were all but beaten. But a Nazi invasion of England was inexplicably postponed, diverting certain triumph and ultimately leading to the Allied victory.

In addition to these four episodes, two additional episodes of Great Blunders of World War II are included: The Bomb Plot to Kill Hitler and The Scattering of Convoy PQ17."
W. Bolam | La Mesa, CA USA | 04/08/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I was pleased to see a new "supersized" history of WWII box set come to DVD, and being a superfan of this subject bought it. I wasn't expecting a lot of new footage but I thought perhaps a new perspective would be refreshing.

I'm afraid disappointed is an understatement in describing how I felt while watching it... "War Chronicles" (Mort Zimmerman) was never my favorite of the WWII documentaries, and this box set is built entirely on these old reels.

Patrick O'Neal's voice drones on like the engines of a tired old bomber on a long run to the heart of Germany. You hear little else but his narration over the canned sound effects through the entire series.

I was particularly amazed at the lack of footage devoted to England and the Battle of Britain. Literally a couple of minutes!

A far better choice would be the "BBC History of World War II", The "Definitive History of WWII" (Brentwood), "Visions of War" (Southern Star/IMAVision), or "The World at War" box sets.

If you still wish to have this box set, there will be plenty of very slightly used copies available very cheap, very soon!

Hoping for Something Better
James E. Adam | Baltimore, Md. | 05/30/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I agree with the majority, that this set is very incomplete. While content presented on WW II is good, I have other issues.

The running time is approximately 810 minutes (not 892 minutes) on 10 DVDs in the standard cases, which requires at least 6 inches of shelf space. Only 4 DVDs were required, but 10 DVDs were used.

I mainly purchased this set for the 10 Military (Great) Blunders episodes. I was hugely disappointed that all episodes ran between 20:55 and 21:07 minutes. I have some of these episodes on VHS and they ran 22 minutes and I was hoping that original running times of perhaps 23 minutes, would be in this set. The problem is the History Channel (and the rest of the TV universe) keeps cutting runing times for more commercials. So, the original episodes no longer exists and you get heavily edited programs. Maybe, if the History Channel had shipped the original, uncut episodes, 892 minutes may have been correct.

Bottomline, while there are much better choices for WW II content, there is some unique information, so that you don't feel too ripped off. But, Cable Networks (e.g. History Channel) are the worst of the worst, with commercials galore and distracting on-screen logos. That's why we buy these DVDs, right?

A brief comment
magellan | Santa Clara, CA | 11/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I note that there are a lot of lukewarm reviews of this set, and even a fair number of negative comments relating to its shortcomings. For me, though, as a beginner in World War II history, something I knew very little about, I found this set quite enjoyable and informative. I liked how each episode is divided into various segments discussing the country's leaders and generals, the armies and positions involved, order of battle, military strategy, and the weapons themselves--ships, tanks, planes, etc. This approach made it very easy for a non-specialist to follow and to learn from.

The footage is truly spectacular; in one film sequence, a Stuka dive-bomber scores a near miss on a tank, which flies up into the air, flips over, and lands on its turret, upside down. Wow. The extensive footage of fighters strafing tanks on the ground, shooting down enemy planes, bombers dropping hundreds of bombs, and battleships firing massive broadsides are amazing to watch. With extensive footage of aerial dogfights, sea battles, artillery, tank, and infantry action, you get fantastic footage of every aspect of mechanized warfare in the 20th century.

Besides the many important facts about the history, you pick up many fascinating smaller tidbits of information. I had thought that the Russian equipment was inferior to the other armies, but the Russian T-34 tank was the best of any tank in WWII. It had thick, sloping armor that the Germans couldn't penetrate initially, since most German tanks were equipped with a lighter machine gun and the heavier, more effective gun was only in limited use by the time of the battle of Russia. During the battle of Stalingrad, the rifles of the Germans froze and often became unusable. But the Russians mixed gasoline with the gun grease, which lowered the freezing point so they still worked. As many German soldiers succumbed to the cold and frostbite as from their wounds, but the Russian soldiers wore layered, quilted tunics that came from the Asian and Mongolian steppes that were warmer, compared to the Germans who just wore the standard woolen winter coats.

I didn't realize flame thrower tanks were in such wide use during WWII, but you often see footage of them in these movies. They were especially effective during the Pacific war when the Japanese would hide in caves behind thick foliage. I once read that being a flame thrower tank soldier was one of the most dangerous assignments, because the tanks were so hated that the crews were often executed on the spot if a flame thrower tank was captured.

Amidst the many horrors of war, there is the occasional scene of humanity. In one scene, a G.I. helps a captured, starving German soldier down from a tank. Back then, we really were still the good guys.

One difference I noted between this series and the Last Days of WWII set, which I'm watching now, is that in the latter production there are numerous interviews with soldiers, on both sides of the war, who participated in these battles. This is a nice feature, although the live interviews don't always shed that much light on the events since many of them are fairly short. But as there will soon be a time when no more surviving WWII veterans exist, again, it's a nice feature to have.

I note that many people seem to prefer the much praised World at War series from the 80s, and the BBC World War II production. Having seen this set now, I intend to get those also now that my interest has been piqued. My only criticism is I agree that at just under 900 minutes, the whole set could have fit on 4 DVDs rather than on 10. Why this was done I don't know, but I do agree with the complaint about this. Overall though, a fine beginner's set that's easy to watch and learn from."