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An Intimate War Doc--Directed By A Long Gone Friend


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Everyone,

As you'll see from this marvel, it's the wrong theater, but the "toolbox" is right for CMFI and therefore, highly relevant. This is war seen from all sorts of unusual angles, expertly directed by one of the grand old gentlemen of Hollywood, Jack Hively, whom I was proud to call my friend many years ago when I lived aboard my boat in Marina Del Rey, California.

Probably in his eighties when I met him, Jack, who directed the original "Black Beauty," had his boat on the same pier I did, and it was my privilege to know him. During the war, he was on MacArthur's staff, and he put this gem together. For reasons unknown, it's taken me decades to finally get to see this, but I give you "Attack! The Battle of New Britain." I've seen tons of WW II documentary footage, but nothing has ever brought things into quite the focus Jack manages to do here.

While we assuredly get the big picture, he tells the story from the most intimate and nitty gritty level--war as seen by the participants. There is a grit and immediacy here that at times makes one cringe and the skin crawl. You can feel the jungle heat, the humidity, your waterlogged boots. You don't have to wonder any more about being under fire, for you can see it happen, flinch as it happens. There may be a Sherman as a shield, but when the MG opens up, the squad hits the deck, leaving the Sherman apparently alone in the jungle. Most of the U.S. weapons are shown in action--up through 105mm howitzer, plus all kinds of naval gunfire and rockets. The PTO modders may lose their minds! This doc is both groggy and moving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxBHD0sjW90

Regards,

John Kettler

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Jack, who directed the original "Black Beauty,"

I checked IMDB and could not find Jack Hively as the director of any of the Black Beauty films, do you know which year the version he directed was made ? as the original Black Beauty was made in 1906, and was directed by Lewis Fitzhamon.

Here is Jack Hively's CV on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0387002/#Director

Here are the credits for the documentary, Hively is credited with being in charge of photographic unit #2 at Arawe landing: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/563919/Attack-The-Battle-for-New-Britain/ and one of the two film editors:http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/563919/Attack-The-Battle-for-New-Britain/full-credits.html

but no one is credited as a director, although Frank Capra gets a production credit in IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185893/fullcredits#cast

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noob,

I guess there were more versions of "Black Beauty" than I ever imagined, and I don't see it in either IMDB or TCM in the complete filmogrpahy for Jack. IMDB doesn't always get it right, either. For example, when the 1992 Oscar™ winning for Best Documentary "The Panama Deception" came out, I was the sole Primary Research credit listed. The VHS version will confirm this assertion. "Credit creep" seems to have occurred since, with several more added who didn't do the work or worked for me.

As for Jack's involvement with the doc, it's possible I misheard it, misremember what he said and/or he misspoke (wasn't always fully switched on). Regardless, I distinctly recall the MacArthur connection and that he was proud of the film. Deservedly so!

Regards,

John Kettler

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noob,

I guess there were more versions of "Black Beauty" than I ever imagined, and I don't see it in either IMDB or TCM in the complete filmogrpahy for Jack. IMDB doesn't always get it right, either. For example, when the 1992 Oscar™ winning for Best Documentary "The Panama Deception" came out, I was the sole Primary Research credit listed. The VHS version will confirm this assertion. "Credit creep" seems to have occurred since, with several more added who didn't do the work or worked for me.

As for Jack's involvement with the doc, it's possible I misheard it, misremember what he said and/or he misspoke (wasn't always fully switched on). Regardless, I distinctly recall the MacArthur connection and that he was proud of the film. Deservedly so!

Regards,

John Kettler

Well co editor and head of one of the photographic units is pretty impressive, not to mention directing George Sanders in the Saint films :)

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Thanks for posting this, an excellent documentary. I think it manages to avoid the most outrageous propaganda so common in many of these films (and perhaps needed at thet time), while showing more of the human cost

Those GIs must've gone through a hell of rain and mud and enemy fire...

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Thanks for posting, John, although relevance to CMFI is tenuous. This documentary seems fairly typical, though, of documentaries made between the time the War Office authorized the showing of US dead ("the Price of Victory") and the end of the war.

I've watched a fair amount of these docs, but I've found nothing yet that gives the particularly nasty flavour of PTO combat better than these unedited 2-8min clips from Peleliu and Okinawa:

No dramatic bayonet charges or hand to hand Spielberg theatrics here. This unedited colour footage (consisting of longer takes so you can see what they're actually doing) shows the slow, systematic advance of small combat details, supported by armour, to isolate, incinerate and entomb an enemy who rarely showed his face. Suitably creepy music as well.....

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Shadrach,

It WAS pretty low key in that department, considering when it was made.

LongLeftFlank,

Relevance to CMFI lies in the opportunity to see many of the weapons in action that are found in it. BAR, .30 cal MG, .30 cal HMG, Ma Deuces in all kinds of configurations (none fired, save as AA), 60mm mortar, 105mm howitzer, hand grenades, bazooka fire, M1s and Tommy guns. It's also relevant in that it makes the telling point of how much goes into keeping a "thin line of riflemen" advancing. I also find that all sorts of units that never get coverage in the usual accounts are cited and acknowledged here, such as the linemen and signalers (messengers on up), the water treatment unit, the poor blighters moving supplies through terrible terrain (nah, no connection there). The doc even shows the hand carts used for moving MGs and ammo, not to mention the 37mm seen up close (reportedly capable of 30 rpm!

Bloody Peleliu and Okinawa? More "fun" than should be allowed! Ever read CORAL COMES HIGH, a book that left an indelible mark on my young psyche?

Erwin,

You're welcome!

Regards,

John Kettler

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