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Wake Island

Wake Island

The war’s just begun, we’re definitely not winning, and your assignment is to make a movie about a tragic defeat that could be the first of many tragic defeats for the U.S.A.. Paramount’s careful morale-building war drama doesn’t exaggerate or over-sentimentalize the brutal fall of a tiny island in the Pacific. John Farrow directs a fine group of actors who knew the film ‘had to say the right things.’ It stands as a fine example of filmmaking reaching for hope in the face of disaster.

The first WW2 Hollywood combat film based on an actual battle is the beautifully made Wake Island. It’s even more beautifully conceived to achieve multiple public relations aims in a time of great crisis. Until 1941 Wake Island had been little more than a stop for Pacific-hopping Pan-American clipper ship airplanes; Japan bombed it a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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