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

M. Clay Adams  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: M. Clay Adams
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AQS3X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,016 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

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.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
164 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one we have waited for. August 15, 2005
I have been watching Victory at Sea since I was a kid. I seldom missed an episode when it was shown. Over the years I have taped the series two or three times but never got it complete. I have bought crummy VCR tapes. Worst of all I bought the A&E piece of junk. What an expensive rip off that is. Finally we have this one (Studio: Digital 1 Stop DVD Release Date: July 12, 2005 Run Time: 780 ASIN: B000A2XC7Q) BUY IT if you like Victory at Sea. The picture is very good and the music and narration are like you remember it. I don't think it has been remastered but that is a plus after being suckered into buying that A&E piece of crap.

As far as I can see it is complete and each episode is 26 minutes long.
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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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72 of 73 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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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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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine TV Series Now Available on DVD May 11, 2006
I can remember watching "Victory at Sea" on Sunday afternoons on PBS, and I still enjoy seeing the rolling waves and hearing the distinctive music which made this series so popular. All 26 episodes of the original series are included on 3 DVDs. I don't think that the individual episodes have been re-mastered. Regardless, each episode appears just as it was when it appeared on television. From the U-Boat battles of the North Atlantic to the final capitulation of Japan, the viewer is treated to a very well-done and entertaining look at the naval battles of the second world war.

Although there are other versions of the "Victory at Sea" series available on DVD, I like this one the best because of the very reasonable price. Some of the other versions cost upwards of $50. The only drawback to this set is that the picture quality isn't as good as it possibly could have been. However, this is a minor point. Each episode runs approximately 26 minutes, and each is loaded with actual footage derived from over 13,000 hours of actual film shooting.

I give this fine version my highest recommendation. You'll get to re-live the series just as it was when it was on television. The rolling waves are still there, and the large "V" still appears at the end of each episode. Watch this legendary series and experience how the second world war was fought on the high seas.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "V" for Victory
An American classic, a historical account that will go down in history.
Published 1 month ago by Theodore Cerame
4.0 out of 5 stars Two hiccups.
There were two places on the first disk that stopped completely. After a few seconds it continued to play. Otherwise it was okay.
Published 2 months ago by Raymond C. Gilbert
2.0 out of 5 stars Sound quality is way off. The music over rides ...
Sound quality is way off. The music over rides the narrative. Watched it once and put it on the shelf, if I'm hard up some day I'll try it again
Published 2 months ago by Kenneth King
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Dated in its presentation but still interesting and stimulating.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Robin W. Caires
5.0 out of 5 stars Best WWII American Naval Documentary
A classic series that provides an overall view of America's naval role in WWII. Well-selected scenes provide an excellent summary and impression of overall conditions and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by M. Chang
3.0 out of 5 stars the navy's first recruiting commercial;
this was so stylised and glamourised one could almost be forgiven for forgetting how close we came on numerous occasions to losing this war, even with the Japanese codes being... Read more
Published 4 months ago by kwabena sankofa
2.0 out of 5 stars Better Sources
I don't know what all the raves were about when this was first out but even going back to that time, I would judge it as "poorly done" and especially as a Documentary. Read more
Published 4 months ago by B.Street Racer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Series but Restoration is Needed
I watched this series as a Navy brat when it first aired. It was mandatory viewing in our home and I especially remember the episode concerning Iwo Jima. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Anthony Rubolotta
4.0 out of 5 stars Victory at Sea
This is a great documentary of WWII and will be classic for years to come.
It shows the heroism and honor of our service people in defending our liberty, not only
for the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Buttercup
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value
Good viewing quality for a series produced in the early fifties.
Very accurate and comprehensive series on Naval warfare in WWII.
Published 6 months ago by Doyle Stinnett
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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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