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Victory at Sea - The Legendary World War II Documentary (History Channel) (1952)

M. Clay Adams  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)

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Victory at Sea - The Legendary World War II Documentary (History Channel) + The World at War + Victory at Sea: The Complete Series
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Product Details

  • Directors: M. Clay Adams
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2003
  • Run Time: 690 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AQS3X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,197 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Victory at Sea - The Legendary World War II Documentary (History Channel)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Wraps by Peter Graves
  • Interactive Menus
  • Scene Selection

Editorial Reviews

A 26-episode World War II documentary, Victory at Sea is one of the most important series in the history of television. Made in 1952, the show was a huge success, winning many major awards and even spawning albums featuring the orchestral score by Richard Rodgers, best known for his musicals with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. Produced with the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy, each 26-minute program consists of black-and-white wartime film set to a narration by Leonard Graves. The two years leading up to America's entry into the war are dismissed in episode one, while the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gets a show of its own, the raid depicted in a brilliantly edited montage that almost certainly contains "docu-drama" footage. Each episode contains at least one powerful stand-alone sequence in the tradition of Serge Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin), these action-suspense set-pieces giving the programs an urgent, surprisingly modern feel. Indeed, the emphasis is at least as much on entertainment as information, the factual content delivered in poetic narration, the score transforming the war into a more than usually serious Hollywood adventure. The documentaries are nothing if not wide-ranging, covering parts of the land war despite the title, and including everything from the Atlantic convoys and U-boat "Wolfpacks" to war in Alaska, the South Atlantic, and the Far East, the Pacific War, and the Fall of Japan. There is an attempt to include other nations--certainly the D-Day episode acknowledges the British far more than Saving Private Ryan--but inevitably the focus is on America's war. The very dated narration gives a fascinating insight into how America saw WWII in the early 1950s, while the dynamic cutting and often genuinely remarkable wartime footage make Victory at Sea still gripping today. Twenty years later, Granada's The World at War would become the definitive television WWII history, but this release offers a unique opportunity to see a series of great importance from the very early days of television. --Gary S. Dalkin

Product Description

A fascinating historical collection of 26 documentary-style episodes paying tribute to the Navy and its part in WWII. Each episode contains brilliant original footage coupled with a stirring score by Richard Rodgers. 4 DVDs. 1952/b&w/13 hrs/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
393 of 409 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Video is great; Audio is HORRIBLE February 28, 2004
The History Channel and NBC NEWS should be ashamed of themselves for putting out this long awaited DVD version of Victory at Sea. I watched these shows as a kid back in the 50s and waited for the DVD version. I was warned by someone that the sound wasn't great, but I bought the set anyway. Big mistake. You have to watch some of them with a remote in your hand to constantly raise and lower the sound. The narration is too low and the music is too loud. A review on another website defending the DVD set said that there is a warning on the box that says "audio levels may vary". Yeah, right, but the sites that sell the DVDs don't point that out. This was very disappointing. I can't, and won't, recommend this set to anyone.
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123 of 124 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what you'd expect from the History Channel November 17, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was greatly dissapointed in this 4 disc set from the History Channel. I have VHS versions of some episodes, and they are much superior in both picture and sound quality. What happened? The editing/compilation of the DVD's is VERY poorly done, the intro to each segment (by Peter Graves) is much louder than the following program, so you constantly have to run the volume up and down ( and not just a little +/- 100% ). The resulting sound is muddy, with severe flutter and poor dynamic range ( film not kept tight on the sound drum during transfer ). The narration of the episodes is hard to hear, while the sound effects and music come blaring out at you - drowning out everything. The overall effect is about what you might expect of a high school kid's first attempt at making a home movie - and only a C- at that. There is no capability to play the entire disc, you must select each episode from the main menu, and then select "play this episode" again from the sub-menu, repeated seven times for each disc. I was supremely dissapointed - I have many History channel DVD's, and this is far and away the worst - a prime example of "let's make a quick buck - people are too stupid to care" thinking...The History Channel ought to be ashamed of themselves !!! if I had paid the $ 60.00 list price I would have really been outraged - as it was for $ 40.00 I still felt cheated and ripped off. It is hard to imagine what the producers of the original series would think - this was one of the finest original programs ever shown on TV - and to have the DVD's be so crudely done - no attempt to clean up the picture, no effort put into making the sound anywhere close to even, some episodes are very loud ( even distorted ) and some you can hardly hear, the inconvienient playback features, and cheesy packaging all contribute to the worst transfer, poorest DVD watching experience I have ever come accross. A Golden Rasberry candidate if ever there was one.
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245 of 262 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2 STARS FOR EXPECTED CONTENT 0 STARS FOR SOUND November 8, 2003
Ever since I had my first DVD player I wanted to get Victory At Sea. It turned out to be quite a disapointment. The sound track leaves much to be desired. When the DVD starts the music is wonderfull, as soon as the first part goes on you know the sound and effects will be and are awfull.The sound is low and lifeless.The sound is most of what makes the stories come alive. I own the CDs of this music and they are great. These DVDs seem as though they were copied from an old tape and never enhanced. I know the stories, I have the tapes, these DVDs are a rip off.
Joel Powell
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victory at Sea, This is the DVD to have December 7, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is the DVD release of this outstanding series that I have been waiting for. The History Channel version is a total flop, don't waste your money on it. When I bought this on Amazon, I was thinking that this was going to be another "flop", but that didn't happen. The narration by Leonard Graves and the music by Richard Rodgers are at the absolutey correct levels that they should be, just as in the original VHS series. The sound quality is excellent as is the video imagery. You get the lead-in theme song and the big "V" at the end of each episode, no overlapping segue as in the VHS tapes which eliminated the leadin/endings for all episodes on a given tape in the series. There is also some added bonus materials on each DVD disc which adds to the appeal of this series. All I can say is WELL DONE, FINALLY! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this version of Victory at Sea if you want the original un-edited un-corrupted TV series on DVD.
Mel Phillips
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Greatest WWII Naval Documentary February 16, 2006
By Boatman
This is a vintage series created when TV was in its infancy and sound recording much simpler than today. However, a great deal of the battle photography is unsurpassed.

No series brings together so much authentic warefare footage from the naval dimension of WWII. Editor Isaac Kleinerman worked with what would be considered a shoestring budget and primitive equipment by today's standards. But he did a spectacular job of retrieving and assembling archival footage. Some of the camera operators were right in the line of fire or on the burning decks. Some scenes show vast panoramas of ships the world will never see again. V at S also does justice to the supply and logistics side of the conflict, which too many fictional and documentary accounts ignore.

Some portions are dramatizations or staged, but these are less obtrusive or contrived than half of what the History Channel or our Pentagon puts out these days.

The only thing really missing from V at S is interview or narative support from sailors, merchantmen, and commanders who were still alive and whose memories were fresh. However, this documentary technique did not really become standard until the 1970s. The Salomon / Hanser script, read by Leonard Graves, fits the style of the period, and can be appreciated accordingly. It would not (and could not) be done the same today. But this is no more a detraction than to say that Hollywood can do no real remake of any classic.

People who ask for a digital "restoration" of the sound are mistaken to think there is a Richard Rodgers score for each episode and sequence. There never was. Rodgers wrote some excellent pieces of music, some of which were released in mono and stereo albums over the years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best if you've never seen it!
Just as I remember it from childhood. Very authentic, but if you're a WW 2 buff, like me, there was very little footage I hadn't seen. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bruce Samuels
5.0 out of 5 stars Great American Music
My father was a submariner during WWII. Two uncles served aboard the "Fast Carriers" that took the war to the enemy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John F. Forbes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great images and great music all in one.
This is one of the best documentary series of all time, especially with the musical score written to highlight the films. I loved it as a teenager and love it still.
Published 3 months ago by Philip D. McGaughey
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Documentary ever.
I first saw some of the episodes when I was very young and found them fascinated. Seeing them in order,with all those shows I missed was well worht the purchese.
Published 9 months ago by Steve Blackwelder
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch and Learn
What can be said other than one of the best World War II documentaries ever produced. It will always be "the one to have."
Published 10 months ago by Richard V. Riddle
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not do justice to the sailors and airmen who fought this battle.
Dominated by loud and dissonant music throughout this so called epic is a disaster. The videos clips are barely edited for any form of smooth continuity and the voice over does... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Breiz
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Object Lesson on World Politics and War
I can recall watching the original show on the little screen - being glued to the set every week, and then for the summer re-runs. Yes, the footage is somewhat skewed in parts. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Photonut
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable!
"Victory at Sea" is not a classic documentary because it does not focus on specific events or dates to the same extent as most WWII documentaries. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Philip W. Getts
5.0 out of 5 stars My Husband loves this
Works fine. Please don't make us write all these words. It keeps you from getting reviews. I cannot spend this much time.
Published 15 months ago by Lynn
Published 16 months ago by bill gillen
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This explains a few things
Looking for a documentary that reports on the destroyer "Bailey" that participated in the ambush by the Japanese. Can you tell me if it is featured in this documentary "Victory at Sea"?? thanks for a reply. mntmama
Nov 10, 2008 by mntmama |  See all 2 posts
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