Marine Raiders / In Our Time (1944) DVDs Review: WWII WAC

Every time the Warner Archive Collection unearths another wartime propaganda movie, I have to wonder if Hollywood didn’t make an entire feature-length drama for every war bond sold during the duration of America’s involvement in World War II alone. But of course, I’m also glad to see rarities such as these two drastically different flicks being made available, and neither In Our Time or Marine Raiders will prove to be disappointing. Well, not unless you’re easily offended, that is. Truth be told, the latter offering of this WWII-some from 1944 may drop a jaw or two with its less than politically-incorrect stance on certain Asian cultures during the time when both features were originally produced and distributed.

But let’s start with the “nicer” movie of the two. Released in February of ’44, Warner Bros. In Our Time finds the great Ida Lupino in a romantic drama that begins a few months before the Invasion of Poland. Here, Ms. Lupino plays the British-born assistant to an outspoken and very fussy antiques dealer (Mary Boland), who meets and promptly falls for a local Count (Paul Henreid) when she and her employer travel to Poland, where the aristocrats are snooty to the nth degree, and the rest of the population seems to be most fitting of all those bad Polish jokes.

Alas, between her impoverished upbringing (she’s not royalty), the Count’s family disapproves, threatening to cut them both off should they marry. But that’s nowhere near as life-threatening as a multinational storm looming in from all sides, which concludes with the most blatant “Buy War Bonds” message ever. Nancy Coleman, Victor Francen, Michael Chekhov, and the poorly named Alla Nazimova also star in this feature from Vincent Sherman, which includes a small (uncredited) part by Cyd Charisse (as a ballerina, of course). Franz Waxman provides the score.

The sale of war bonds must have gone up considerably once Marine Raiders made its debut in June of 1944 from RKO Radio Pictures. A fairly undistinguished tale of love and war highlighted (sadly) by the inclusion of just about every slur and stereotype ever made against the Japanese during World War II, this guilty pleasure stars Pat O’Brien as the commander of a squad of eponymous grunts (perhaps a few pogues, too). A young Robert Ryan (who actually left to enlist in the Marines after finishing this film) makes a name for himself as a lovestruck captain whose character shares the name of another Bond, Daniel Craig.

Ruth Hussey is the romantic interest for the latter male lead, who joins the war effort like every patriotic, childless female of the time was required to do. Lots of battles, stock footage, and very offensive comments towards the enemy abound in this moving picture from Harold D. Schuster. Robert Wise served as an uncredited assistant director, while Nicholas Musuraca provided the photography. Frank McHugh, Barton MacLane, Martha Vickers, Russell Wade, and an unbilled Blake Edwards also appear.

Both of these wartime efforts make their DVD debuts via the Warner Archive Collection. Each movie is presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio with mono stereo audio in accompaniment. Neither title sports so much as a trailer in the bonus materials department, but that’s hardly surprising given the fact these movies are all but considered obscure (to say nothing of insensitive, in the case of the latter flick) by today’s standards.

Give ’em a spin.

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Luigi Bastardo

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