The Story of a WWII Aircraft carrier--in Color--A Must-See
Rob Morris | Idaho Falls, ID United States | 07/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 62-minute color DVD is taken from a war documentary done in 1944 and meant for Home Front theater audiences. It is absolutely superb. First of all, it is directed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler, who also did the 'Memphis Belle' news documentary. Second, it is carefully put together to give viewers a feeling for what life was like on a great American aircraft carrier in the Pacific in World War II. Third, the whole thing is in exceptionally good color. The film follows the 'Fighting Lady' (not her real name, because of the war and because it represented all the carriers) from the time the first planes arrive and land on her decks through a series of hard-fought campaigns, including Kwajalein, Truk and the 'Marianas Turkey Shoot'. The footage is excellent, whether showing the daily lives of men on the ship, from the captain to the pilots to the cooks and dishwashers, or showing actual combat footage taken from the gun cameras of American fighters and fighter-bombers. The action footage is amazingly good. Narration is provided by Robert Taylor, an actor who was a Naval Reservist during the war. It is first-class in every way. I recommend it for anyone interested in life on aircraft carriers in World War II, in good color combat footage, in watching planes take off and land on a narrow, pitching deck, or WWII naval history in general. This is a bargain at twice the price."
Douglas M. Garrou | Richmond, VA USA | 04/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An outstanding example of the wartime documentary, in color no less. Not exactly politically correct, but what do you expect? We didn't start the damn war."
The Fighting Lady
Steven Hellerstedt | 04/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Released in late 1944, winner of an Academy Award as Best Documentary in 1945, William Wyler's THE FIGHTING LADY portrays life aboard a newly commissioned aircraft carrier as it wends its way southward from its eastern seaboard home port, crosses the Panama Canal, and streams westward to join the naval war in the Pacific theater of operations. Finally, we are on board planes and boat during a number of enemy engagements.
The War Office commissioned a number of these documentaries during the war. They were made by top-notch Hollywood directors, including John Huston, John Ford, and Wyler. Probably the best known of these is Frank Capra's early, five-part `Why We Fight' series, the first of which was released in 1942. I've read that audiences grew increasingly tired of them. War-weariness had set in, newsreels delivered much more current information, and the typical 60-minute run time was hard to fit onto a playbill. A Saint or a Boston Blackie or even a Blondie episode would have been a lot easier to sell than a war documentary depicting events that occurred over a year and a half ago.
That said, THE FIGHTING LADY is pretty good. The ship's real name is never revealed. I guess (wasn't told this, either) that it's a Yorktown-class carrier. The camera gets around fairly comfortably, imparting an idea of how enclosed and self contained life on an aircraft carrier was. Crewmen bake bread, shave steaks off whole quarters of beeves. The deck hangar is as huge as a cathedral. Early on the ship's captain exhorts the crew to greater efficiency, pilots are granted the luxury of pre-battle breakfasts of steak and eggs, and the mutt mascot wags around in a miniature life vest when the ship enters more dangerous waters. The approach is admiring, the tone (with voice-over narration by Robert Taylor) is determined, and the general impression, by 1943, is one of overwhelming material superiority. By 1945 the subject had changed from `why we fight' to `how we won.'
This is the first full color WWII documentary I've seen, and one of the few produced during the war. After the ship reaches the war zone we're shown a lot of footage of Japanese planes being shot out of sky by the ship's aak-aak guns, land and sea targets strafed and bombed via movie cameras strapped onto airplane guns, and that fellow with the flags on the flight deck guiding the planes in for the always hazardous deckside landings. Although cameras are smaller, lighter, and steadier today, TFL contains some of the supplest photography I've seen in a contemporary documentary. It's visually interesting, and not the worst of the lot by a long shot. "
Mr. W. ROGERS | upton wirral uk | 05/06/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"this is a very good war movie of the american carrier, but disappointed in the print as it is poor clarity at the start, the color is very deep with a lot of pink showing. the sound is down in parts, but the narration id very good by Robert taylor, well directored and the score by Newman is good. I can only give this movie 2 star. it as a lovely cover annd a good story to it. however I shall look for a better copy if available in the future"
We own the sea - We own the sky
Gisli Jokull Gislason | Iceland | 01/04/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A contemporary propaganda documentary from World War 2. The words above are taken from the film.
For security reasons the carrier remains unnamed - but it is aso the story of all carriers that fought in the Pacific. All footage is in colour and shows everything from the barbershops and bakeries to the captain of the ship that never leaves the bridge (even takes his meals up there).
The propaganda is smooth, not much Jap bashing but more a story of the boys and men, how a crew with about 75% fresh recruits in a company of 6000 men become one of the greatest weapons of war. The film takes you from their commission - on to their first fighting at Marcus Island and on finally cumulating in the Marianas 'turkey shoot'. All this in one hour. If there is a drawback it is that the DVD is in normal TV aspect ratio but as is obvious from the credits and a few sceens the films original was wider.
War film fans will be in for a ride of their lives since all the arial combat is taken from combat films from the planes that fought (through the later part of the war a film camera was fitted to combat aircraft and started to record when the gun triggers were activated.)
I have seen a few WW2 propaganda films and this is by far the best documentary, beaten only in the overall category by "Donald Duck in Nutzi Land by Walt Disney" (Walt Disney Wartime Classics). I recommend that as well :)"