All This and World War II: The Forgotten 1976 Film That Mashed Up WWII Film Clips & Beatles Covers by Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Keith Moon & More

You may not hear the term mash-up very often these days, but the con­cept itself isn’t exact­ly the ear­ly-two-thou­sands fad that it might imply. It seems that, as soon as tech­nol­o­gy made it pos­si­ble for enthu­si­asts to com­bine osten­si­bly unre­lat­ed pieces of media — the more incon­gru­ous, the bet­ter — they start­ed doing so: take the syn­chro­niza­tion of The Wiz­ard of Oz and Pink Floy­d’s The Dark Side of the Moon, known as The Dark Side of the Rain­bow. But even back in the sev­en­ties, the art of the pro­to-mash-up was­n’t prac­ticed only by rogue pro­jec­tion­ists in altered states of mind, as evi­denced by the 1976 20th Cen­tu­ry Fox Release All This and World War II, which assem­bled real and dra­ma­tized footage of that epoch-mak­ing geopo­lit­i­cal con­flict with Bea­t­les cov­ers.

Upon its release, All This and World War II “was received so harsh­ly it was pulled from the­aters after two weeks and nev­er spo­ken of again,” as Kei­th Phipps writes at The Reveal.

Those who actu­al­ly seek it out and watch it today will find that it gets off to an even less aus­pi­cious start than they might imag­ine: “A clip of Char­lie Chan (Sid­ney Tol­er) skep­ti­cal­ly receiv­ing the news of Neville Chamberlain’s ‘peace in our time’ dec­la­ra­tion in the 1939 film City in Dark­ness gives way to a cov­er of ‘Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Tour’ by ’70s soft-rock giants Ambrosia. Accom­pa­ny­ing the song: footage of swasti­ka ban­ners, Ger­man sol­diers march­ing in for­ma­tion, and a cli­mac­tic appear­ance from a smil­ing Adolf Hitler, by impli­ca­tion the orga­niz­er of the ‘mys­tery tour’ that was World War II.”

The oth­er record­ing artists of the sev­en­ties enlist­ed to sup­ply new ver­sions of well-known Bea­t­les num­bers include the Bee Gees, Elton John, the Who’s Kei­th Moon, and Peter Gabriel, names that assured the sound­track album (which you can hear on this Youtube playlist) a much greater suc­cess than the film itself, with its fever-dream mix­ture of news­reels Axis and Allied with 20th Cen­tu­ry Fox war-pic­ture clips.

As for what every­one involved was think­ing in the first place, Phipps quotes an expla­na­tion that sound­track pro­duc­er Lou Reizn­er once pro­vid­ed to UPI: “It would have been easy to take the music of the era and dub it to match the action on screen. But we’d have lost the young audi­ence. We want all age groups to see this pic­ture because we think it makes a state­ment about the absur­di­ty of war. It is the defin­i­tive anti-war film” — or, as Phipps puts it, the defin­i­tive “cult film in search of cult.”

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear 100 Amaz­ing Cov­er Ver­sions of Bea­t­les Songs

The 15 Worst Cov­ers of Bea­t­les Songs: William Shat­ner, Bill Cos­by, Tiny Tim, Sean Con­nery & Your Excel­lent Picks

Dark Side of the Rain­bow: Pink Floyd Meets The Wiz­ard of Oz in One of the Ear­li­est Mash-Ups

The Atom­ic Café: The Cult Clas­sic Doc­u­men­tary Made Entire­ly Out of Nuclear Weapons Pro­pa­gan­da from the Cold War (1982)

Watch 85,000 His­toric News­reel Films from British Pathé Free Online (1910–2008)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (4)
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  • Me says:

    I was 14 in 1981 and owned 2 albums: Beau­ty and the Bear and this one.

    I actu­al­ly knew noth­ing of the Bea­t­les, and still don’t real­ly appre­ci­ate them enough, maybe, but Tina Turner’s ren­di­tion of Come Togeth­er remains THE defin­i­tive ver­sion for me. Oth­er songs on the album are excel­lent (the Bee Gees have a cou­ple that work well if I remem­ber), but Tina’s is a tri­umph, well-worth a quick search to hear.

  • Me says:

    *Beau­ty and the Beat. Thanks, Auto-cor­rect.

  • Nighan says:

    Any­one know if a DVD or even VHS of this movie is avail­able some­where?

  • DarkAlleyDan says:

    Mom worked at a radio sta­tion in Edson, Alber­ta back in the 1970’s. She brought the sound­track of this home from the office one day.

    No idea where it is now. Prob­a­bly with the sound­track to Sgt. Pep­per’s Lone­ly Hearts Club Band. Inter­est­ing to note the Bee Gees are the com­mon thread between these two cocaine fueled excess­es…

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