“Remember how it was?” a voice-over narrator asks periodically in Leo Hurwitz’s bold essay film Strange Victory (1948). For the first 20 minutes, Hurwitz revisits the World War II years, when Americans of all stripes pulled together to defeat the racial tyranny of the Axis powers. War Department footage shows the fury of the air war against Germany and the suffering of its people as U.S. soldiers chase through Berlin in hope of capturing the Führer. Victory brings the first Nuremberg trials, with Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, and company sitting in the dock, and dancing in the streets back in the U.S. But the party is cut short when Hurwitz shows propaganda stickers and chalked graffiti turning up on the streets of New York: Help Save America! Don’t Buy From JEWS! and P.L. IS A POPE LOVER and NIGGERS RUINT THIS TOWN. “The theme of the film was very simple,” producer Barney Rosset once explained. “It was about how we won the war, and crushed Hitler, but he escaped. Escaped and came here.” Continue reading >>