Let's get the title out of the way first. This book isn't just an overview of war films made between 1939 - 1945. It sets out to examine the way the armed services co-operated with (or hindered) film-makers who were trying to portray service life. And, though the core of the book concerns the war years, it actually covers the period 1900 - 1970.
S.P. Mackenzie has a fascinating tale to tell: of how the services gradually came to realise that this strange movie thing was something they would have to come to terms with, and how film-makers skirted around official disapproval to make films that reflected the reality audiences knew.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book is how Mackenzie places each film firmly in the context of the time it was made. He shows how various scandals, defeats and debacles contributed to the pressures which forced the services to co-operate in a business most of the officers found distasteful or incomprehensible.
I wouldn't have thought there was much left to say about this subject, but Mackenzie has found plenty worth saying.
Pub: Hambledon & London
ISBN: 1 - 85285 - 258 - 5
Price: £19.95 $30 (hardback)