The Negro Soldier
43 mins., black and white, mono sound, produced in 1942 and 1943 by Frank Capra's Army film unit and released April 13, 1944, by the War Department to the general public through the War Activities Committee with the help of Jack Warner. Chief of Staff George Marshall wanted Frank Capra's Army film unit to make a documentary film that would teach racial tolerance and promote wartime unity. The 1940 Selective Service Act prohibited racial discrimination and 885,000 black soldiers would serve in the Army. Racial conflict was a threat to wartime unity and black leaders wanted a "Double V" campaign for victory over foreign dictators and domestic racism. FDR declared Oct. 9, 1940, that blacks would be allowed to join the Army Air Corps and be eligible for officer training schools. The McCloy Commission found that riots in Army training camps were caused by white racism at the local level, regardless of policies handed down from the federal government. In the fall of 1942, Capra selected Heisler to direct the film, and Moss to write the script. The visual images in the film are "neat, clean, orderly, responsible, patriotic." In January, 1944, the Army began to show the film to black troops, and after February it was shown also to white troops. In April, the 35mm print was released to the general public but was shown in only 1819 theaters during 1944, the same year that the Army's Technicolor film Memphis Belle was shown in over 12000 of the nation's 13000 theaters. The 16mm print of the film was shown in schools and civic auditoriums. The United Auto Workers used the film to improve racial integration on the assembly line.
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Carlton Moss
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Choral arrangements by Jester Hairston
Consultant: Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
Carlton Moss .... Minister
Lt. Norman Ford .... Son
- Bernard Nalty. Strength for the Fight. A History of Black Americans in the Military. New York, 1986.
- Thomas Cripps and David Culbert, "The Negro Soldier (1944): Film Propaganda in Black and White," in Hollywood As Historian, American film in a cultural context. edited by Peter C. Rollins. University Press of Kentucky, 1983.
- David Culbert, editor. Film and Propaganda in America: a Documentary History. v. 2. World War II. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.
- 50th anniversary commemoration of Executive Order 9981 from Redstone Arsenal includes a chronology through World War II especially part II and part III (see local mirror of selections from parts I,II,III
- Redstone Arsenal includes a Multimedia section with the films Negro Soldier and Navy Steward available online (local mirror for Navy Steward)
- Multimedia Resources from Redstone Arsenal is "the US Army's largest on-line video archive! We've got over 183 AVIs scattered around the site (most are indexed here). All clips are from the Historical function's film/video archive" and most deal with rockets and missles from WWII to the present.
- Redstone Arsenal in the 1940s has 140 photos online
- The Women's Army Corps Museum at Fort McClellan in Alabama "is the only museum in the States dedicated to women in the military service!" but is closed until "relocating to Fort Lee, Virginia, in March 2000. There it will be called the U.S. Army Womenıs Museum."
- THE WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS: A COMMEMORATION OF WORLD WAR II SERVICE by Judith A. Bellafaire, CMH Publication 72-15, from the Center for Military History
- Book Review and Chapters Summary of FILM PROPAGANDA AND AMERICAN POLITICS by James E. Combs and Sara T. Combs (1994) Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 208pp.
- Minority Groups in World War II from pages 187-190 of Selective Service and Victory: The 4th Report of the Director of Selective Service (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1948), from the Center for Military History includes these statistics: "Negroes were an important source of manpower for the armed forces in World War II as is shown by the fact that a total of 1,056,841 Negro registrants were inducted into the armed forces through Selective Service as od December 31, 1945. Of these, 885,945 went into the Army, 153,224 into the Navy, 16,005 into the Marine Corps, and 1,667 into the Coast Guard. These Negro inductees made up 10.9 percent of all registrants inducted into the Army (8,108,531), 10.0 percent of all inductions into the Navy (1,526,250), 8.5 percent of all Marine Corps inductions (188,709) and 10.9 percent of all Coast Guard inductions (15,235). Thus Negroes, who constituted approximately 11.0 percent of all registrants liable for service, furnished approximately this proportion of the inductees in all branches of the service except the Marine Corps."
Negro Soldier part2 | History Department | Filmnotes | revised 3/10/99