Proudly We Serve

Andrea King and Warren Douglas in "Proudly We Serve," 1944.

Andrea King and Warren Douglas in “Proudly We Serve,” 1944.

“Proudly We Serve” (Warner Bros., 1944) is a product of its time in the best possible sense. During World War II, every major studio in Hollywood turned out a flood of one-reel shorts that were released as morale boosters for both the Armed Forces overseas and the American population at large. At that time they were called “documentaries” by many in the movie industry, although the term today wouldn’t be appropriate. These short films were scripted. Fictional characters were used, often interlaced with real footage. They depicted various aspects of military and civilian life during the war. The worst of them bordered on propaganda, but the best were informational, educational, and highly inspirational … and still managed somehow to be entertaining. These one-reel wonders also served a dual purpose for the studios as artistic testing grounds for new talent, in hope that their young actors might be ready for better roles in larger productions. “Proudly We Serve,” with a running time of approximately 18 minutes, survives today as one of that genre’s best and brightest examples.

Andrea King stars as Sgt. Christy Marlowe, a gunnery instructor in charge of training a new pilot played by Warren Douglas. During the course of the pilot’s instruction, his eyes are opened by Sgt. Marlowe to the value and use of women throughout the military. He learns respect and admiration and, at the same time, falls in love with his beautiful teacher.