Historic WWII Propaganda Films

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Historic WWII Propaganda Films

This film shows American government propaganda at its finest! All four films show just how powerful film can be in persuading the masses, especially during this era, when there were very few media outlets to choose from.

Included Films:

Our Enemy: The Japanese

Our Enemy: The Japanese

Produced: 1943

Length: 19 Minutes

This intensely racist World War II propaganda film aims at showing the public how different and inhuman the Japanese are from Americans. Setting Japanese people up as the hated other was easy for Joseph C. Grew, former ambassador to Japan, who narrates the film. I can testify that they are as different from ourselves as any people on this planet. The real difference is in their minds. You cannot measure Japanese sense of logic by any Western yardstick. Their weapons are modern; their thinking 2000 years out of date. He describes them as a people who are brought up from infancy in a warlike culture that trains them to believe that it is their God-given right to rule the world, and they will fanatically fight to the death in order to achieve it. As he gives this running racist commentary, inflammatory and often misleading scenes of Japanese life roll by. Children are shown doing calisthenics, soldiers are shown marching, Emperor Hirohito sits his horse, people perform Shinto worship, and Japanese soldiers commit grisly war atrocities. This film is American war propaganda at its worst and most prejudiced.


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It Can’t Last

Produced: 1944

Length: 19 Minutes

This propaganda film, It Cant Last, encourages all Americans to maintain their support of the war even though victory was in sight. To ensure success, persuasive videos such as this sought to keep the people back home from getting complacent and continuing to work hard. The message is clear: people are still dying and they are your sons and daughters. This film is a fantastic example of the extent to which the American government was willing to manipulate the hearts and minds of the populace in order to support the war.


Safeguarding Military Information

Safeguarding Military Information

Produced: 1941

Length: 11 Minutes

Safeguarding Military Information warns soldiers and defense workers about carelessly giving away military secrets to family, friends, or spies. A soldier tries to explain to his girlfriend that he is going to be unavailable for a while without being too specific. She pesters him, however, and he gives in and tells her sensitive information. Later, he loses his life because of his carelessness. The film tries to convince the viewer that there are eyes and ears everywhere, and that loose lips can cause sabotage, deaths of soldiers, and loss of military battles, Thoughtlessness breeds sabotage. Another soldier is approached by a suspiciously curious man at a bowling alley, and apparently does the right thing by reporting him to a superior officer. Walter Huston and Eddie Bracken are featured in this well made film.


Ring of Steel

Ring of Steel

Produced: 1941

Length: 9 Minutes

Ring of Steel, a World War II ode to the American soldier, is given a rousing narration by famous actor Spencer Tracy. A veteran of WWI himself, Spencer adds cache to this already well-made patriotic film. It credits multiple generations of soldiers for the many years of freedom and safety that the United States has experienced since the foundation of our country. The film was made in 1942 for the U.S. Office of Emergency Management and serves as a wonderful historical bit of genuine patriotism.

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