This film is part of Free

Prelude to Victory

Nominated for an Oscar, this film dramatically depicts the carefully plotted invasion which took Hitler by surprise and led to the defeat of Axis powers in Africa.

Documentary 1943 18 mins


Opening with a montage of newspaper headlines telling of Nazi defeats and setbacks, followed by shots of American GIs marching unchallenged through the streets of Oran and other North African ports, the upbeat tone of this Academy-award nominated March of Time film is clear from the start. What also makes it stand out is the clear narrative explaining how months of intelligence gathering and secret diplomatic activity in Algeria and Tunisia laid the groundwork for a successful invasion.

Released in the US in December 1942, and a month later in Britain, this film was nominated for an Academy Award at the 1943 Oscars for Best Documentary Feature. Deft editing helps to create a clear narrative, skilfully weaving together footage of US citizens reacting to newspaper headlines (‘Japs Flee Americans’), troops in North Africa, shots of Churchill and Roosevelt at the White House, and Operation Torch leader Dwight Eisenhower - the mastermind of the whole affair. Maps illustrate the Mediterranean and the pincer movement from which the Allies intended to move into Italy and an unusual mixture of different commentators - one with an Arabic accent - emphasise the collaborative effort of the invasion.