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Appreciation Pieces, Countries, Documentary, Genres, United States, War

“The Battle of Midway” (1942, dir. John Ford)

There isn’t much to say about this film other than how great a piece of US War Propaganda  it is. John Ford and three other photographers (Jack MacKenzie, Kenneth M. Pier, and Joseph H. August) were on the island of Midway (Midway Atoll) during the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Ford and his crew managed to capture some of the best “right-there-in-it” footage of the entire war.

But, of course, being John Ford he had to play the footage at an angle that would work for the general public, so he had Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell record brief narration for the film, cut in some archive footage of James Roosevelt, and worked in a story about families at home awaiting the return of their sons who were bravely serving their country. Yes, it *is* war propaganda, but it’s extremely well put together war propaganda, and oozes of the style of patriotism that John Ford loved to put into his films.

Both John Ford and Joseph August were wounded by enemy fire during the battle, but they still managed to capture some of the best documentary footage to come out of WWII. The film won the 1943 Academy Award for “Best Documentary”, with the award going to the U.S. Navy.

Because this film was made by a branch of the Armed Forces, which is a branch of the US Government, the film is in the public domain and is available to be viewed for free on YouTube from OpenFlix. Check it out, the film is less than eighteen minutes long, and even though the added on “story” might seem a bit much the film itself is worth checking out. John Ford had one of the most developed photographic eyes of any director working in “Old-Hollywood”, the beautiful image above was shot by Ford himself on a 16mm camera, and it shows.

Here is the film on YouTube:


The film can also be viewed (with slightly better image quality) on the Internet Archive:



About Andrew Bacon

A home school student turned filmmaker. A filmmaker turned film-blogger. A film-blogger who wants nothing more than to be a filmmaker. Mostly though, I just like movies.


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