Cast & Crew
Jack G. Eisenberg
The film opens with newsreel footage of a meeting between German chancellor Adolf Hitler and Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini and his son Vitorio. The strength of enemy armies in Asia and Europe is discussed, as is the need to keep Russia, an ally of the Americans, out of a two-front war. Captured footage filmed by Japanese cameramen of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on 7 December 1941, is presented. Following this, the film examines how the Japanese expanded their empire to include Burma, Java and Indochina. The expansion is analyzed in terms of the strategic gains the territorial acquisitions provide to Japan, and it is concluded that the military bases established in these countries give Japan a safety network that guarantees its security. America's enemy to the east, the Germans, are also seen expanding their influence and strengthening their already battle-hardened army. In evaluating Germany's territorial acquisitions, the film indicates that Germany lacks little in the way of resources needed to manufacture arms. At home, the U.S. Army, under the command of General Dwight David Eisenhower, is credited with supporting its allies in Europe by replacing war machinery through the "lend-lease" program. The film examines the American Air Force tactical force, which is being employed to support ground fighting. This takes place while the Air Force operates against the enemy's interior, attacking factories and breaking the soldiers' morale. German war plants are said to have been selected for Allied attack, and it is reported that one million tons of bombs have already been dropped on these locations. In contrast to the European situation, America's allies in China are said to be unable to support a war machine because they are not industrialized and therefore require shipments of materials from the United States. A discussion of the logistics of Allied amphibious attacks follows, including the landing at Salerno, Italy. The film contains a speech by Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson, in which he states that the Allied attack on Sicily should serve as a "fine example of the tasks ahead." After reporting on the American troops who have been captured by Japanese soldiers and are being held on the island of Corregidor, in the Philippines, the film concludes with footage of the Moscow conference.
The viewed print contained no onscreen credits. According to a December 1943 article in PM (Journal), this World War II documentary, which was commissioned by the U.S. War Department and features American newsreel footage and footage of film captured from the enemy side, was based on a report by Major General George V. Strong, Assistant Chief of Staff. The article noted that War Department Report marked the first time in history that the high command of the American armed forces made an official report to the country on the strength of the enemy, and that the release of the picture was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The War Department, according to PM (Journal), commissioned the film in response to urgings by labor leaders who believed the findings in the War Department reports were important and would interest a larger audience. Although a telegram contained in the AMPAS Library production files notes that the film was "released to its intended audience [on] December 7 1943," no other evidence has been found to indicate that the film was distributed for public viewing. According to a December 1943 Los Angeles Times article, War Department Report was a "restricted government film" that was previewed before a "limited audience" on December 20, 1943 at the Ambassador Theater in Los Angeles. The article also notes that the film was intended for showing primarily to war plant workers. The picture was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.