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Design for Death

Design for Death(1948)

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The film's working titles were Hirohito's Children and Kamikaze. The film begins with the following written announcement: "Exhibition of confiscated Japanese film material authorized by permission of the Alien Property Custodian in the public interest under license no. LM-979." This is followed by the following written foreword: "There are those who say that World War III is not inevitable. They believe it can be avoided when enough people really begin to understand that behind all wars of aggression there is a racket. This is a picture about that racket."
       Newsreel and re-enacted footage are combined in the film. According to an January 18, 1948 New York Times article, pre-production on the film began in 1946. Although modern sources claim that the picture was edited from eight million feet of captured film, the New York Times article noted that RKO purchased only 4,325 feet of film for a cost of $11,000. [This is the length of the released film, according to information deposited with the Copyright Office.] During the two years it took to edit the film, a lessening of war hysteria in the U.S. and changing American attitudes toward the Japanese people necessitated the elimination of much of the "hate" footage. The New York Times review states that the film "obviously avoids a careful analysis" of Japanese social and political history. Writer Theodor S. Geisel, whom modern sources note was an "Oriental expert," later became known as "Dr. Seuss," one of the most popular children's book authors of all time. Together with Helen Geisel, his wife, he wrote The Cat in the Hat. The film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1947.