A co-production of the US Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information, The True Glory documents the victory on the Western Front, from the invasion at Normandy to the collapse of the Third Reich.
The officially credited director was Garson Kanin. British director Carol Reed was not officially credited, but is listed as director on IMDB and other sources. Paddy Chayefsky is the officially listed writer. Other writers not officially credited are Harry Brown, Frank Harvey, Gerald Kersh, Saul Levitt, Arthur Macrae, Eric Maschwitz, Jenny Nicholson, Guy Trosper and Peter Ustinov. There were so many people involved in this rather remarkable documentary -- which received the Oscar for best documentary in 1945 -- that it's impossible to list them all.
The film was (brilliantly) edited down from more than 10 million feet of film taken by hundreds of war photographers, none of whom are credited. The editing involved is extraordinary. During one long segment of film, there must have been thousands cuts, each less than 2 seconds in length, most no more than one second long. That is a lot of splicing. It's beautifully done, professional all the way.
You may have seen other propaganda films from World War II, but this isn't one of those.
I've watched a lot of war movies and this is no less professional than any movie I've ever seen. The difference for me was the realization that I was looking at the real war, not a Hollywood version. The effects were not done with a computer. The bodies of the dead are the bodies of soldiers. They aren't actors. The guns are firing ammunition, no special effects. The ships are on the seas. The aircraft, pilots, bombardiers are the real deal. The battles are life and death in real-time. It gave me the shivers.
As the movie progresses, there are maps that let you follow the progress of the various armies. It is the first time I actually understood where the Battle of the Bulge took place and why it was called "the bulge."
It was like time travel for me, listening to Dwight D. Eisenhower. I grew up when Eisenhower was President. I remember his voice as the voice of the president of my childhood. So perhaps this is a good time to mention the not only was Dwight D. Eisenhower President of the United States and Supreme Allied Commander, but he was a winner of the Oscar Award as producer of The True Glory. Did he display the statuette in the White House?
If you have not seen this movie, which is now available on a two disc set that includes not only the European war, but the Italian campaign and the battles in the Pacific ... and if you have any interest in World War II ... you owe it to yourself to see it. There are many good movies about the war, but this documentary -- set of documentaries really -- has the most remarkable footage. You've probably seen it before, or at least much of it in pieces in various war movies. Seeing it like this, without any Hollywood manufactured footage is like seeing it for the first time.
In honor of Memorial Day and all our troops who fought and died in so many wars in so many lands, this is dedicated to all of them. And it's dedicated to us, the people they died to protect.