All This And World War II (1976) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

All This And World War II (1976)

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Danny INDIFFERENTOkay, just to be quick about this, since odds are you've never heard of it, here is what this entire movie is: covers of Beatles songs played over clips of old movies and newsreels about World War II. There you are. 90 minutes of nothing but that. There are no characters, no plot (besides the obvious), just a couple of witty clips, lots of muddy imagery, and some very so-so Beatles covers.

That about does it for this review. Who's hungry?

Okay, maybe not, but it's nice to dream.

Okay, how to stretch this out... Okay, so this movie was made in 1976, six years after the Beatles broke up. A couple of executives get the idea to license their songs out and put them over a movie. Apparently this same concept was done earlier with a film called Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, though that film concerned the Depression with covers of old radio standards and was directed by the man behind both Howlings 2 and 3. And that somehow made money.

I don't know, I wasn't around in the 70's.

So the concept is there. The newsreel footage and movie clips were assembled by Susan Winslow, who researched Brother. The footage itself isn't anything too special; since each song follows a different narrative strain, the film itself is disjointed. There a couple of nice scenes: seeing Charlie McCarthy and Jimmy Stewart getting their military commissions was interesting, and the footage of the Japanese being rounded up for internment camps is something I hadn't seen before.

But judging the film on just the footage it contains seems counterproductive since the music undercuts it dramatically. When you're watching newsreel footage intermixed with scenes of Tora Tora Tora (1970) while the song "I Am The Walrus" plays overhead, it feels... well, dumb.

Does this song reveal anything new about Pearl Harbor? Does it reveal anything new about the song? Does it suddenly make Tora Tora Tora worth watching? Does this sequence exist for any reason other than the attempt to sell a tie-in album?

The music itself is mostly forgettable, and seems to seep into itself. Reading the album review over at AllMusic (the album actually made more money than the movie, for the record), it bemoans the fact that despite all the covers by a large variety of popular artists, almost all were accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, giving the whole affair a deeply cold and uniform sound. The artists that only lend their voices, not their styles.

Besides providing the songs to cover, of course, the Beatles had almost nothing to do with this film. John Lennon is the only exception, as he plays guitar on the only non-symphonic song here, Elton John's cover of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." What can I say about that song, though. Never was one of my favorites. But I like "Hey Jude," so maybe my opinion on Beatles songs isn't that refined.

Regardless, watching this film you'll see Nazis marching through Europe to "Magical Mystery Tour," Japanese-Americans rounded up to "Let It Be," and, yes, a terrible "Hey Jude" cover summarizing the horrors the Russians went through. The most painfully literal one has to be "A Day in the Life" played over D-Day. They don't get more silly.


All This and World War II is s curiosity only worth tracking down if you're curious, and even then maybe not. The only really nice thing I can say about it is that at least it's not the film version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band. And thank god for that.

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All This and World War II (1976)

This film (IMDB) is currently unavailable other than in the bootlegging sense.
Directed by Susan Winslow
Starring a lot of people and yet no one, really

Posted by Danny

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