December 7, 2010

December 7th

from Tag Gallagher's Ford till '47:

Field Photo productions won best-documentary Oscars two years in a row, Midway and December 7th (1943). The latter, mostly directed by Gregg Toland, initially followed White House directives and made a case for interning the 160,000 Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii, as was being done with the 110,000 Japanese-Americans living on the west coast.

Instead it was decided to leave the Hawaiians alone, after the military governor, General Delos Emmons, supported by the community, resisted Washington's orders. Accordingly, some 50 minutes of December 7th were deleted, now Japanese-American loyalty is stressed, and the portion that remained was exhibited not in theatres but in factories. Virtually all the footage of the Pearl Harbor attack was staged at Fox. (All prior accounts of December 7th's history, including my own, have missed this story completely. Hawaii's successful defiance of Roosevelt is a deeply forgotten event in American history – not surprisingly.)

The long Gregg Toland version of the film

1 comment:

craig keller. said...

Andy, this version of 'December 7th' was released on DVD by Kit Parker Films via VCI in 2001. It's the cut that I've been most familiar with for the last decade.

The version I own on DVD (the VCI / Kit Parker version) runs 1 hour 23 minutes. Perhaps the approx. two fewer minutes in the YouTube version are the result of shaved-off FBI warnings, distributor idents, and so on.

The "Ford at Fox" boxset included 'December 7th' in its short version as a "bonus," placed on a disc sequestered beneath forty pounds of books, an unwieldy sleeve, and the rest of that embarrassing ornate packaging jazz — nothing dates quicker in the home. As I recall the 'package' includes no information about the film or the version in which it's presented, because of course it's not a film, it's a supplement, like something you'd buy at GNC.