Saturday, January 26, 2013

Service with the Colors (1940)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Short Subject, Two Reel - Warner Bros.

"Service with Colors" is an unintentionally goofy two reeler produced in the years immediately preceding America's direct involvement in World War II.  The short is a recruiting video for the Army, and the final minutes of the film contain some stunning shots of Army marches, including tracking shots of Army marches that would make Stanley Kubrick smile.  Unfortunately, the first reel and a half are the story of a new recruit, played by future head of Warner Bros. Television William T. Orr (or Wm. T. Orr as he was later known), who is inexplicably displeased with Army life, a displeasure that he makes known loud and clear.  The film is a bit of a "Scared Straight" for Army recruits, and the message is that the Army isn't just for young people looking for a decent job, but for patriots who want to defend their country.  There's nothing wrong with that message, just with the ham-handed delivery of it in this short.

Aside from the impressive shots of the military parade at the film's end, the reason to watch this film are the beautiful Technicolor shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, which had opened just over three years before the release of "Service with the Colors."  This was likely the first good look many audiences had of the Golden Gate Bridge, and what a look it is.

It's amazing that the same director who composed such stunning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and the military parade was responsible for the amateurish shots of our sullen hero; the disparity between the two cannot be ignored.  "Service with Colors" has a stupid little story and overt proselytizing, but is worth watching solely for the beautiful Technicolor visuals.

Remaining: 3172 films, 871 Oscars, 5447 nominations

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