Big Hollywood’s series on conservative movies continues with an account of director John Ford’s filming of his documentary on the Battle of Midway, in the course of which Ford himself was injured.
When Ford viewed the rushes that he had taken at Midway — the massive explosions, the debris slamming into the camera, the spectacular raising of the flag amongst black clouds of ruin — he knew he had something special. But in a way, the material was too good — sure to be heavily redacted by the Navy as too frightful and disturbing for public consumption. So in Washington soon after the battle, the wily director secretly passed the reels to one of his young Field Photo editors, the former child actor Robert Parrish, and asked him to cut it down to a decent twenty-minute documentary.
“Is it for the public or the OSS?” Parrish asked.
“It’s for the mothers of America,” Ford shot back. “It’s to let them know that we’re in a war, and that we’ve been getting the shit kicked out of us for five months, and now we’re starting to hit back.”
The film is a classic, but somehow I’d never seen it. It is indeed, as Ford’s biographer wrote, “one of the rare pieces of propaganda that is also a timeless work of art.”
I’d recommend going here to watch the video in a larger format, high quality version, but here it is in a standard format: