Victory at Sea, Guadalcanal

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After training in Australia and New Zealand, the U.S. Marines land on Guadalcanal. The U.S. Navy suffers defeats by the Japanese Navy around the island—in an area called Ironbottom Sound. Essential information is conveyed about how some deaths are caused not just by battle but also by malaria that comes from the long stays in the Guadalcanal rain forest. The number of people dying on both sides is especially emphasized here, a remarkable example of endurance. Meanwhile, to the tune of Richard Rodgers’ most famous march from the series, America’s men and materiel are mobilized against the ultimate struggle that is World War II.

Victory at Sea is a documentary television series about naval warfare during World War II that was originally broadcast by NBC in the USA in 1952–1953. It was condensed into a film in 1954. Excerpts from the music soundtrack, by Richard Rodgers and Robert Russell Bennett, were re-recorded and sold as record albums. The original TV broadcasts comprised 26 half-hour segments—Sunday afternoons at 3pm (EST) in most markets—starting October 26, 1952 and ending May 3, 1953. The series, which won an Emmy award in 1954 as “best public affairs program”, played an important part in establishing historic documentaries as a viable television genre.