Presented in cooperation with the National Archives and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, this collection features four documentaries directed by John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen) as part of his service as an officer in the Army Signal Corps. The documentaries are not simple propaganda, but reflect Huston’s own changing attitudes toward war. Winning Your Wings (18:19 min) is a recruitment film for the U.S. Army Air Forces, hosted by Jimmy Stewart. Report from the Aleutians (44:48 min) reveals the tedium of being stationed at a remote Army post in the islands of Alaska. With San Pietro (32:05 min), however, the tone of Huston’s documentaries begin to take a dark turn, documenting an Italian military battle that cost an estimated 1,100 American lives, revealing, in unflinching detail, the retrieval and burial of casualties. The Army chose not to publicly screen the film. The final installment, the emotionally devastating Let There Be Light (57:50 min) narrated by Walter Huston (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), is considered to be one of the most important wartime documentaries ever made, depicting the treatment of “psychoneurotics” (now known as post-traumatic stress disorder), through hypnosis, drugs, and psychotherapy.
- Winning Your Wings (18:19)
- Report from the Aleutians (44:48)
- San Pietro (32:05)
- Let There Be Light (57:50)
- John Huston’s Wartime Documentaries: An Introduction (26:11)
- San Pietro: Raw Camera Footage (32:58)
- Shades of Gray (1:05:46) – The military re-edited and approved version of Huston’s Let There Be Light, in which actors were used to portray soldiers.