a brilliant motion picture and a splendid tribute to a wonderful bunch of men
Directed by Harry Watt of the Crown Film Unit ‘Target for Tonight’ is one of the most memorable of the wartime documentaries. It was made using only RAF personnel playing themselves as they embarked on a raid over Germany in the early part of 1941. It soon gained attention for being more than merely a piece of propaganda.
The New York Times reviewed it on 18th October 1941:
“Target For Tonight” is the authentic story of a bombing raid on Germany — a simple, factual account of how such a raid is planned and how it is executed, from the moment when a reconnoissance plane drops a picture of the target until the following fog-shrouded dawn when the last of the bombers—”F for Freddie”—comes roaring home to its base.
It shows the manner in which the Bomber Command lays out its operations, how instructions are transmitted to the squadrons which are to participate, how the plan of attack is “briefed” by the men of one particular squadron and then how the crew of one powerful Wellington conducts its appointed task.
The true, thrilling quality of it lies in the remarkable human detail which Mr Watt has worked into it — the quiet, efficient way in which each man goes about his job; the interjection of humor which even the grimmest task and danger cannot suppress, and finally the tremendous suspense of the routine bombing attack when we ride with the crew of “F for Freddie” and get the feeling of being one of them.
Mr Watt has a fine eye for color, and his camera is used with eloquence. There is not a waste shot in this picture; not one that fails to carry a sharp effect.
The whole 48 minute film can be seen at http://youtu.be/PDTLeFl8cXU