~Women In World War II - Film Review~
I had no idea what to expect when I popped this DVD into my little, black, spinning machine. But, I was delightfully surprised by what I had discovered within.
I’m a huge fan of old, classic films - especially from the 1940’s and into the 1950’s. Those years are, without a doubt, my favorite era of filmography. And having knowledge of, and already having viewed, countless movies from that time period, I was shocked that I had never run across this one.
I believe this film was recommended to me by Big Tech. You know - the guys who know more about you than you do about yourself.
One of the big sites told me I should check this out. And, either they really do know me better than I do, or a little birdie told them how completely and utterly patriotic I really am. A quick glimpse of the movie poster, imagery, and really, the title alone, and I immediately clicked. A simple skim of the plot, and I went straight over to the Jacksonville Public Library mobile app and requested to rent.
What a joy!
And what sorrow…
For anyone who is even a remote fan of World War II films, this one is a must-see. The title says it all, and the title does do it justice.
Based upon a true story, So Proudly We Hail tackles a plot involving a ‘small’ and somewhat forgotten and overlooked bullet point of WWII subject matter - WOMEN.
The Women of War… The Women of World Wars... The Women who also risked it all - for freedom.
While, of course, men did most of the fighting, and dying in WWII, women were also heavily involved, at home, and abroad. And contrary to popular belief, women were allowed on the front lines. It just wasn’t discussed, acknowledged, and brought to our attention as it should have been.
Yes - It should have been - so that we could honor the might and bravery and history of American women - in the world's biggest and mightiest war.
No - it wasn’t just Rosie the Riveter back on the homefront, representing the women of American wartime, in bomber plants and machine shops across the U.S. for the Defense industry.
While we remember and know Rosie pretty well - we cannot overlook Nancy the Nurse.
She was nursing on the warfront, and she tackled the death and destruction straight in evil’s path.
So, while Rosie riveted away on airplanes and war ships and other munitions, Nancy was also seaming and mending pieces together, with stitches and staples of a different sort, and working on a different sort of product.
Rosie handled the steel - and Nancy handled the blood and guts.
But they all gave it their all... and that’s all that really mattered at the time.
Starring Claudette Colbert and Paulette Goddard, two of the silver screen’s most extraordinary stars at the time, So Proudly We Hail, accurately, and with great detail, captures the role females in the Army had during some of the war's most challenging times.
And before going any further with this review, I want to highlight an aspect of the film which I deem one of the most important - its context - Time.
So Proudly We Hail was released in 1943 - during the height and depth of WWII. The context is imperative. This film was produced during the war - and not AFTER the war.
This context is of extreme importance, and is what makes this film quite different from WWII films released AFTER WWII was complete. When the war was literally over, extinguished, not of this Earth any longer.
Context is something that - we - society today - have all but forgotten. And context is essential to our understanding of the time period.
And why context is so crucial should be so very obvious, but increasingly isn’t. The war was RAGING while this film was viewed in theaters all over the United States. The war was being fought, the people were sacrificing, people were dying, and the people were afraid of their unknown futures.
American’s had no idea who was going to win the war while watching this film upon its release. Yet, American’s still sacrificed, and they still gave up so very much. All for a belief... a simple, true and noble belief - in hope.
For a better future.
For a free world.
For an end to slavery and tyranny, concentration camps, hate, imperialism - and against the destruction of faith - and for value of personal freedom.
So, while I do love watching these old classic films in the context of the world of today - seemingly and literally a million miles away from the values and context of a world that was alive less than a hundred years ago. I also equally enjoyed viewing So Proudly We Hail with the remembrance of the fact that all of this was made and written and said and sweated over while we were still fighting against the Third Reich and the Imperial Japanese.
No one at the time knew how this horrific world war would end, especially in 1942 and 1943. Only really in 1944 could some see a light at the end of the tunnel. Again, calling all of context into play here.
It all could have gone either way at that point in 1943. The world could have gone the way of the thousand year reign of a fascist dictator, or it could, and did, go in the direction of freedom. And that fact of their lack of knowledge of the future is what I enjoy the very most when I view these films of that time period.
Additionally, and of quite importance regarding the axis power of Japan during the time, no one knew we would someday become allies, and what I have always viewed as a special kinship and friendship between the United States and Japan - after the war.
I believe with all my heart that our relationship with Japan is of solid hope for the world to see - that enemies can become friends. That horrific atrocities on both sides can truly be forgiven. And pave the way toward a better future - for both nations, and others. And this is worth noting due to the scenes in the film where hatred toward the Japanese is discussed from the American point of view at the time.
A time - after - Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
A time - before - Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed.
Of particular note is a scene where Veronica Lake’s character says she is going to ‘kill some Japs.’ She then has a realization - what good would that do? That is not her role. She is sent to the front lines as a nurse - to heal any and all - at a hospital, in the jungle. She does fulfill her role and duty, and does not kill her enemy instead at the time.
Ultimately, however, it is her character that ends up ironically sacrificing herself to save her fellow female soldiers from their enemy at the time - the Japanese. And in her final act, she ends up killing herself - to kill the enemy - to save her American comrades. This scene, showing that no matter how her personal beliefs evolved over the course of their wartime struggles, people still made the ultimate sacrifice. And some still were forced to kill, even if they truly did not want to, in the course of war and evil.
Throughout the entirety of this wonderful piece of film, we are treated to the display of American Army Nurses on patrol, on shift, and their struggles off shift as well. Love, duty, honor, and sacrifice abound the entire film. This movie sheds light on the role of nurses in war, and what tools they had - or did not have - to work with while caring for their patients.
Seemingly forgotten in the jungles, these brave nurses triaged patients under a canopy of palm trees. Their operating rooms were made of tin roofs and cloth sheets for walls. They ran out of what we call today - PPE - personal protective equipment. And they performed surgery without masks. Simply because they just didn’t have any around to use.
Gloves were in extremely short supply. And where today’s hospitals have entire sterile processing programs for surgical instruments, this film portrays how nurses had to wash and sanitize tools in basic garbage bins and barrels - in a futile struggle to remain germ-free for each and every, and endless, patient.
Medicine running out, and at times completely out of supply, patients had to be treated without pain killers, and no anesthesia. A basic - grit your teeth and bear it - sort of agony, for stitching and mending.
And post op - forget any special flower bouquets and treats and books and magazines to keep occupied. Patients by the hundreds and thousands, lay on makeshift stretchers, to suffer through their terrible recoveries in the hot, humid, and wet open air weather of the so-called hospital. All these patients - laying in that shared, open air, watching as our heroic nurses continued treatment on countless other patients seemingly all around them.
And in case one was starting to forget - the film does a solid job of not ever letting us forget that all their hospital work was under constant threat of destruction and actually bombing. Army staff and patients were constantly fleeing enemy soldiers, snipers, airplane attacks from the sky above, and there were constant forced evacuations onto safer land - that was, conspicuously, never found.
As the situation seemed to get worse, for allies in the vicinity, sadly, the war did eventually take a very bad turn for the allies. Bataan, and the Battle of the Philippines, being what many consider one of the American militaries worst failures in our history. In that, the United States, amidst the U.S. and Filipono forces’ inability to hold the line, they ultimately fell - to the Japanese. As the overwhelming and brutal forces of their imperial enemy in this area were too much for both nations to endure. And sadly, after the fall, there was further atrocity - when the Bataan Death March was played out on enemy territory.
Roughly 80,000 American and Filipino troops were contained as prisoners of war, and horrific treatment of these prisoners led to countless further wartime deaths. Post War, Japanese commanders were tried and convicted of war crimes for their knowledge and failure of oversight of subordinates and for allowing these war crimes to take place on their watch.
So, knowing all this, many tears were shed while watching this film. As pain, and suffering, and sacrifice, and hate, and love, were all on full display.
And yes, there was Love.
There was Love - that surrounded the entire film. Love, that gave many hope, I might think, at the time. Love was still happening. Love of all kinds. And this film - in the greatest of great horrors of war time - showed that people were not afraid to actually live while they were alive. Something - as I have said many times - many today have now conclusively forgotten.
We are an afraid people right now. And we are scared to live while we are alive. These people were not. And I am not afraid to live either. The love and life portrayed in this film is indeed something we all can take lessons from today.
During struggle and and sacrifice and the horrors of war, one still must live.
After all, when else is there to live, than when you are alive?
Amidst bombs exploding, one must still live as they watch the bombs fall. In the middle of a raging fire, one must search for water and various types of flame retardants. Surrounded by hate, one must spread good will. And with smoke attempting suffocation, one must still breathe. Life.
If we are not living - we are dying.
If we are not moving - we are receding.
If we are not learning - we are submitting.
If we are not struggling - we are not human.
If we are not risking it all - we are doomed to never know what could truly become.
If we do not know sacrifice - we do not know God’s ultimate glory for us.
If we are not loving - we are doubting God’s creation.
If we do not have Faith - what is our future?
Faith - this brings me to my favorite scene of the entire film.
Walter Abel, playing the role of Army Chaplain, gives a superb performance, and is my favorite actor in the film. He remains, to this day, one of my favorite character actors of the time. His on-screen presence is a joy to me, and a light to my heart. If I had been alive during his lifetime, I would have strived to have met him in real life. And I know I would have written letters to him, thanking him for the joy his characters brought to my heart.
The scene - was of course - Christmas. My favorite holiday. My favorite time of year. Our beloved characters were all onboard ship, and the Chaplain said a prayer. The script is poetic. And many ears today could benefit from hearing his special words. It’s as if God spoke onboard the mighty vessel. And God was there - glowing amidst the light of their special little makeshift Christmas tree.
And this remains my favorite scene - because…
What is war - without Christmas?
“You must forgive me for being sentimental...” Abel states, as personnel gathered around the silly, impromptu Christmas tree.
And he continues: “We’re a sentimental people…”
“Our enemies deride us for it…”
But - “It’s what makes us stronger.”
He asks the people standing around him to have Faith. To continue forward. Even as that very night the ship steered straight into the hellfire of the coming battle. And even as he knows - and they know - what is waiting for them when they reach shore.
But still - they prayed.
And they still - had Faith.~
What do you see... that is still the same today?
What do you see… after nineteen years have flown by?
What do you see… by the dawn's earliest pink light?
What do you see… as we continue our perilous fight?
What do you see… looking down at two holes in the solemn ground?
What do you see… forever searching and maybe still not found?
What do you see… nineteen diligent years later?
What do you see… as you peer into those deep craters?
What do you see… from an airplane’s crash?
What do you see… past all the fire and burned ash?
What do you see… past the smoke and dusty air?
What will you believe… as people begin to not care?
And do you still hear… that valiant band playing through the quiet air?
And will you bear witness… to those fighting still and forever as they must?
As the next round starts... and we have to keep rolling past all the dust.
What do you see… through twilights shining gleam?
What do you see… past all those forces unseen?
What do you see… through those shining bright stars and breathtaking broad stripes?
What do you see… through the horror of all those bombs bursting this very night?
What do you see… through pollution and the reddest of red blood?
What do you see… as free men - and women - stand here in the mud?
What do you see… past Liberty’s smile?
What do you see… from sea to shining sea all those miles?
What do you see… though concealed fighting to be disclosed?
What do you see… as foe’s strike their continual battle blows?
Do you see there is proof?
That our flag is still there?
Oh Say Darling Can You See… her most beautiful story?
As she stands here - proud… in all of her glory?
Yes - I do.
I do see it all.
Yes even in war’s havoc and confusion and nineteen years later.
I even see Heaven on Earth and God our Creator.
I see that reflection shine above all and very tall.
I see Angels in the sky… And God in our hearts as we bawl.
I see reflection bounced off millions of broken chains.
Forever more - unconfined.
I see all those who paved our very way.
With their very lives - they all gave.
Yes, I see those next pages of her remarkable story be flipped.
As her bright blazen stays now - and forever - lit.
And, I STILL see the land of the freest of free… and know that this is God’s Country home, of the very, very brave. ~
Go ahead and admit it - with great pride and your head held high… you’ve been spending more time on the phone lately, haven’t you?
It may be one of the single greatest positive acts that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. People have definitely been talking to one another on the phone, more than they had been in any of the recent past.
And all this talking, it got me thinking... about Lucy Ricardo...
Because Lucy always spent massive amounts of time on the phone.
I’m a huge ‘I Love Lucy’ fan. I have been, my whole life. My grandparents turned me onto it, and when I think of Lucy, I think of them. I have memories of being with my Papa and Grandma - in person - in their house, with Lucy playing in the background.
While we visited, and talked, and laughed, and cooked, and baked, and played games, and read, and celebrated holidays, as well as a whole heck of a lot of regular days, Lucy tended to be there right alongside us.
And whether you’re a fan or not, my point about Lucy is this:
She spent a lot of time at home. Inside her house.
She wasn’t quarantined. There was no active plague. But she was at home, a lot.
But home, or not, she always seemed to get herself into some sort of trouble. Big or small. There was always a crisis, many times of her own making, that needed solving.
And with problem solving comes communication. And so she was always on the phone. Trying to solve one problem - while creating many others in her wake.
Lucy talked so much on the phone that it might have well been her speciality... Her art. Her unique talent in life.
But I also tend to think she used the phone simply to help pass some of her time - in between and amongst those many problems, of course.
And Ricky was always making fun of her for that time spent. He’d be reading the paper, and she’d be on the phone - for hours at a time. Ricky couldn’t understand it! He couldn’t fathom how a person could spend so much of their time talking into that odd-shaped device? And most of the time it was all just chit-chat. Lucy gossiping with her friends. Rumors spreading, and lots of laughing. And always getting herself into scrapes - of varying degrees of that trouble I mentioned.
And a lot of those phone calls were between her and Ethel Mertz. Her best friend, landlord, and close neighbor. They lived one floor apart in the same apartment building - directly above and below one another - for years.
And even though they lived so very, very close, they spent hours on that telephone, with each other.
After hours - of gabbing away - as Ricky might say, one of them would come to the realization that they needed to borrow a cup of sugar from the other. They’d then hang up the phone, and go up or down the single flight of stairs, to get the cup of sugar from the other, in person.
And Ricky would then be even further confused… thinking - why couldn’t they have talked in person that whole time?
So today, while people are keeping some seriously major distance from one another - they have been seeking new ways of communication. And it’s almost like people have re-discovered the phone, and what it’s original intended use was for.
Cause it certainly wasn’t originally intended to get your news, your emails, your social media notifications, or to play video games. It was to talk, using voice.
Maybe a lost art?
Because people just don’t really do it anymore.
Instead, people rely almost solely on the following:
Tweets. Texts. Telegrams - oh wait, we don’t have that one anymore, do we?
Snaps. Tagging. Email. Private Message. Facebook. Insta. Video. Zoom. Stories. Etc, etc. etc.
Digital communication - and a lot of written digital communication - rules.
But on the worst days of the plague, when I was still out and about and working, I noticed something I hadn’t seen in a very long time… And I heard something I hadn’t heard in a very long time either.
And that was the act of people talking to another over the phone. And this is what I heard them saying into those devices...
“I love you.”
“How are you?”
“Is everything ok?”
“How are you feeling?”
“Where are you right now?”
“I’ll be there soon.”
“What can I bring you?”
“Hang in there.”
“I love you.” - I mentioned that one already.
But you know what?
I heard that one so many times, it was most definitely significant.
And if I wasn’t out of the house during the plague, I might not have believed what I heard myself.
As now many articles have been written regarding how phone calls have made a real and significant comeback during the pandemic… Stats, numbers, and charts giving authoritative proof to that numerical statistical change - I only needed to see it first-hand, in my own little corner of the world, to know how true it really was.
With people’s necks constantly bent down, eyeballs looking at their phone screens, for years upon years now, then quickly adapted into actually seeing their heads up, and talking from their mouths, and listening from their ears, the change was real.
Maybe talking on the phone has become so rare that the act of doing so has become an actual gift - to another. A gift of time… Especially today, in this ever-innovative, fast-paced, and digital age.
Tweeting… and texting... it’s all so very fast, so instant, and so non-commital of a person’s time, that a quick bubble of letters and numbers and symbols and emojis has seemingly replaced real, verbal communication, enmasse.
But a phone call means commitment too.
In a way the digitally written word does not.
A phone call means really taking that time and sitting down - to chat - with another - one-on-one. Devoting one’s personal time and voice and ear to another human, for a specified chunk of one’s time.
While the written word, and the internet, is, as they say - permanent, or cannot be taken back after it’s out there in a sense, the phone call remains something permanent as well.
Because it means you gave that time away to another person in a way that cannot ever be taken back. You cannot recall it. You cannot hit the Delete button. You cannot erase it. You cannot unpin it. You cannot wipe it. So the phone call has, in a pandemicy kind of way, become a valuable, and non-regiftable, present.
And not to say that there are numerous societal benefits to texting and instant messaging, but the phone call is now special in its own way.
With entire generations currently growing up on social media and digital communication being the norm, the phone call is seemingly less and less important to society as a whole.
But, just like war, plagues have a way of changing things... Of amending the trajectory of society. And, thus, the way people communicate. For better and for worse. And while most all of the plague lies in the worse category, for obvious reasons, there are most definitely some good aspects of global change that have developed out of this crisis...
And that is the clear and present fact that people the world over have started talking to another once again.
And I got in on the act myself, too.
Talking on the phone is actually one of the things I had been praticing myself these past few years of living far away from friends and family.
I knew that, with moving away from everything and everyone I knew, I would need to rely on the phone more so than I had in the past, to stay in touch with those I love.
So over these past few years, after my move to The Sunshine State from Illinois, I had already been trying to be in better, one-on-one communication, with many, many people.
But the coronavirus ended up only strengthening that resolve further.
During the course of this virus, it sometimes feels as if I spoke with more friends and family from afar on the phone than I had in the whole time since I moved away. And I think maybe that feeling is actually true.
I have reached out to loved ones, and they have also reached out to me. All, over the phone. No, it wasn’t email. It wasn’t Facebook. It wasn’t Instagram. And it certainly wasn’t TikTok or SnapChat.
Crisis does bring people closer together. And sometimes a text just doesn’t count. Sometimes hearing another’s voice is all the more important, and valuable, in a time of fear, loneliness, crisis, confusion, and loss.
And whether we lost someone we know personally, or not, during these past months of crisis, we all lost a whole heck of a lot…. of a whole heck of a lot.
Life is changed.
And it’s up to us to Adapt to those changes. Modify. And Proceed.
And it is now my call to action - to you, fellow humans out there in InternetLand - to pick up that cellular phone. Today. And call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
Flip through your digital Rolodex. Choose some digits. And talk.
Use this long, holiday weekend… And maybe spend a long while on the phone with that person.
And maybe even if that person lives just around the corner from you.
Maybe even if they are your Ethel, and you are their Lucy.
Even if they live so close to you that you can reach out your arm, maybe by standing on your own balcony, stretching less than six feet apart, and swap with them a cup of sugar - in exchange for a stick of butter, or a cup of flour. Even if you are that close. Pick up the phone. And give them a call.
Let that cup of sugar be your excuse if need be.
Because while the entire world keeps on changing, and keeps on spinning, some things just never change… Plague or no plague…
There’s still more problems that need solving…
And Lucy and Ethel still need to gossip… And there’s still another celebration on the way - another cake to bake - and yet still another cup of sugar to borrow. ~
*Have you picked up the phone more so lately, during the coronavirus? Who have you called recently that you haven’t talked to in a very long time? I’d love to know. Drop me a comment down below:
Also - if you’re enjoying my ramblings, my writings, and my Floridian adventures, there’s some more for ya, right here:
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There was once a little doggy named Minnie
And she was named after a Mouse
She lived very high and mighty
Yes she was The Queen of her house
Minnie The Mouse went on lots of adventures
Traveling very near and quite far
And while her life at home was filled with great leisure
She also spent lots of fun time in the car
She traveled to all of the farthest reaches
Yes that car took her to very beautiful beaches
That car took her to many little parks
Where she went on lots of lovely special walks
The window rolled down and she felt a lovely breeze
She visited lots of places and got to eat very special treats
Her shiny fur was the pure color of the best pumpkin pie
And she was the special apple of a certain little one’s eye
And Minnie was shaped just like a perfect little burrito
Because she really loved her tasty puppachinos
Plus cookies and cupcakes, pies, pizza, or even crumbs
No food was not too tempering for her to succumb
Because she would eat anything inside of the house
Yes this was the luxurious life of Queen Minnie The Mouse
She even traveled far up Up UP to the North Pole
Just to make sure she wasn’t given a piece of coal
She met the very man himself Mr. Santa Claus
And sat upon his lap with her four delicate little paws
She told him she was being such a very good little Doggy
And could he please bring her a squeaky little Dolly
Yes, Minnie’s travels let her to feel the wind in her fur
All the while her Magical Life with us went by in a blur
And her favorite ride of all was inside the stroller
Sitting side by side with her favorite little toddler
That little boy and her were quite inseparable
Yes it all was most undeniable
Minnie’s days were also spent with her little matching Bullseye
And we cannot forget both tiny Pua and tiny Hei Hei
And last but not least we must remember her little Fish
Then one day they All helped her make her Birthday Wish
She wished for happiness till the end of days
And mostly never ending time to play
To sleep and eat and dream and run
And simply for that LIFE of pure fun
Minnie got her special Birthday Wish come true
And she now lives on in our hearts, while eating lots of good food too. ~
~ This poem is dedicated to:
The life and many adventures of Minnie The Dachshund Mouse;
All those who will miss her precious presence in this world;
And to all those who miss their own furry creatures every single day. ~~
Check out @beansfldreams on Instagram for all my Floridian Dreams and latest artwork.
If you like my stories, here are some more for ya:
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21) Cinottis ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
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