Oscar for Capra's 'Prelude to War' given to Army

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The Army, with a hand from Hollywood, has received a long-lost Oscar back into its ranks.

The little statue took a long, and largely unknown path before being passed from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis to an Army general during a Wednesday night ceremony and screening.

In 1942, a few weeks after Pearl Harbor, filmmaker Frank Capra joined the Army and was assigned to create a film series, "Why We Fight."

Major Capra, who had directed such films as "It Happened One Night," "Lost Horizon" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was told to create the documentary "Prelude to War."

He showed the finished work to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, who insisted that President Roosevelt see the film.

In his 1971 autobiography, "The Name Above the Title," Capra wrote of a screening at the White House. Amid the applause at the end, FDR exclaimed: "Every man, woman and child in the world should see this film!"

"Prelude to War" was at first seen solely by soldiers in Army quarters, but the Army eventually relented and 250 prints were sent to theaters across the country.

The Academy staged a screening of "Prelude to War" on Wednesday night at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood.

"Sixty-five years later, 'Prelude to War' still continues to be one of the greatest documentaries ever made," said Ganis, the emcee for the screening.

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