collections

The Battle of San Pietro (1945)

Documentary directed by John Huston who was commissioned by the US army to record their efforts to take Italy in the Battle of San Pietro Infine in 1943. The US Army ended up refusing to show the film because it was too honest in its portrayal of the high cost of battle and the difficulties faced. Huston and his crew were attached to the US Army’s 143rd regiment of the 36th division. Though a few scenes seem to be have been reconstructed outside of actual fighting, unlike many other military documentaries Huston’s cameramen did film alongside the infantrymen as they fought their way up the hills to reach San Pietro. These cameramen were in just as much danger as the soldiers on the ground, often within a few feet of mortars and shells exploding and bullets ricocheting nearby. The film is unflinching in its realism and was held up from being shown to the public by the United States Army. Huston quickly became unpopular with the Army, not only for the film but also for his response to the accusation that the film was anti-war. Huston responded that if he ever made a pro-war film, he should be shot. Because it showed dead GIs wrapped in mattress covers, some officers tried to prevent troopers in training from seeing it, for fear of it upsetting morale. General George Marshall came to the film’s defense, stating that because of the film’s gritty realism, it would make a good training film. The depiction of death would inspire them to take their training seriously. Subsequently the film was used for that purpose. Huston was no longer considered a pariah; he was decorated and made an honorary major. (Wikipedia)

Housed at: Internet Archive
Underlying Work: PD Gov | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Ogg | MPEG4