The Negro Soldier

43 mins., black and white, mono sound, produced in 1942 and 1943 by Frank Capra's Army film unit and released April 13, 1944, by the War Department to the general public through the War Activities Committee with the help of Jack Warner. Chief of Staff George Marshall wanted Frank Capra's Army film unit to make a documentary film that would teach racial tolerance and promote wartime unity. The 1940 Selective Service Act prohibited racial discrimination and 885,000 black soldiers would serve in the Army. Racial conflict was a threat to wartime unity and black leaders wanted a "Double V" campaign for victory over foreign dictators and domestic racism. FDR declared Oct. 9, 1940, that blacks would be allowed to join the Army Air Corps and be eligible for officer training schools. The McCloy Commission found that riots in Army training camps were caused by white racism at the local level, regardless of policies handed down from the federal government. In the fall of 1942, Capra selected Heisler to direct the film, and Moss to write the script. The visual images in the film are "neat, clean, orderly, responsible, patriotic." In January, 1944, the Army began to show the film to black troops, and after February it was shown also to white troops. In April, the 35mm print was released to the general public but was shown in only 1819 theaters during 1944, the same year that the Army's Technicolor film Memphis Belle was shown in over 12000 of the nation's 13000 theaters. The 16mm print of the film was shown in schools and civic auditoriums. The United Auto Workers used the film to improve racial integration on the assembly line.


Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Carlton Moss
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Choral arrangements by Jester Hairston
Consultant: Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.


Carlton Moss .... Minister
Lt. Norman Ford .... Son


Negro Soldier part2 | History Department | Filmnotes | revised 3/10/99