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“Keep ’em Flying!”: Films of the U.S. Army Air Forces First Motion Picture Unit

Saturday, November 10, 2007
6:30 p.m. Resisting Enemy Interrogation
FMPU (U.S., 1943)

Introduced by Thomas Doherty


Thomas Doherty is a professor of American studies at Brandeis University. His books include Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II; Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture; and, most recently, Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration.

“Don’t talk!” exhorts an Air Force officer as he debriefs the surviving crews of a foiled air raid on a German target; it is a lesson well learned by the end of this taut training film. Designed to educate Army flyers at risk of enemy detainment and interrogation, the film pits gentlemanly Nazi intelligence officers against five loose-lipped American POWs. These men don’t really talk so much as boast and chit-chat their way to their comrades’ doom. But the real appeal of the film is the detective work of the German officers as they piece together the details of a top-secret mission of which the prisoners themselves are unaware. A 1944 Time magazine review of this instructional gem proclaimed, “The only thing dull about Resisting Enemy Interrogation is its title.”

—Lucy Laird

• Written by Harold Medford. With Arthur Kennedy, James Seay, Don Porter, Carl Esmond. (68 mins, B&W, 16mm, From Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research)

Preceded by short:
Position Firing (FMPU, U.S., 1944). In this witty animated short, Trigger Joe (voiced by Mel Blanc) trains side gunners to calculate approach arcs, speed, and distance of enemy aircraft. (15 mins, B&W, 16mm, From NARA)

• (Total running time: 83 mins)