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HISTORY

The film's working title was Returning Soldier--The Psychoneurotic and is also identified onscreen as PMF 5019. The print in NARS is dated 1948. An opening statement indicates that no scenes in the film were staged and states that the film was shot at Mason General Hospital in Brentwood, NY. The viewed print begins with the following written statement: "To protect the privacy of the soldiers appearing in Let There Be Light , their names have been deleted. In all other respects, this film remains as originally written and directed by John Huston." The film was completed in 1945, but was first shown to the public in New York City on 16 Jan 1981.
       Modern sources add the following information about the film: Huston was assigned to produce the documentary on 25 Jun 1945. In an interview, Huston stated that he was commissioned to make the film because at the time, returning soldiers with nervous and emotional problems were not getting jobs. "And there was no more disgrace to this discharge than if the man had been a physical casualty--had lost an arm or a leg." Huston shot 375,000 feet of film. The film was withheld from general release by the War Department, ostensibly because the rights of the men in the film had been violated, even though they had signed releases, according to Huston. On 11 Mar 1946, access to the film was restricted to seven military hospitals in the U.S., the Veteran's Administration, the U.S. Department of the Navy, service command Signal Corps libraries and overseas viewing by relevant military personnel. In the interview, Huston stated: "It was banned, I ... More Less

The film's working title was Returning Soldier--The Psychoneurotic and is also identified onscreen as PMF 5019. The print in NARS is dated 1948. An opening statement indicates that no scenes in the film were staged and states that the film was shot at Mason General Hospital in Brentwood, NY. The viewed print begins with the following written statement: "To protect the privacy of the soldiers appearing in Let There Be Light , their names have been deleted. In all other respects, this film remains as originally written and directed by John Huston." The film was completed in 1945, but was first shown to the public in New York City on 16 Jan 1981.
       Modern sources add the following information about the film: Huston was assigned to produce the documentary on 25 Jun 1945. In an interview, Huston stated that he was commissioned to make the film because at the time, returning soldiers with nervous and emotional problems were not getting jobs. "And there was no more disgrace to this discharge than if the man had been a physical casualty--had lost an arm or a leg." Huston shot 375,000 feet of film. The film was withheld from general release by the War Department, ostensibly because the rights of the men in the film had been violated, even though they had signed releases, according to Huston. On 11 Mar 1946, access to the film was restricted to seven military hospitals in the U.S., the Veteran's Administration, the U.S. Department of the Navy, service command Signal Corps libraries and overseas viewing by relevant military personnel. In the interview, Huston stated: "It was banned, I believe, because the War Department felt it was too strong medicine." Huston requested and received permission from Army public relations to show the picture at MOMA in the summer of 1946. Moments before the program was scheduled to start, however, the print was confiscated. New York City exhibitor Arthur Mayer, who had seen the film while working for the War Department, then tried unsuccessfully to persuade the authorities to release the film to the general public.
       In 1971, James B. Rhodes, the head archivist at NARS, asked for permission to screen Let There Be Light as part of a salute to Huston and was informed that the ban was still in effect. An unauthorized screening of the film took place at LACMA on 8 Nov 1980. After viewing the documentary in Nov 1980, MPAA president Jack Valenti vowed to work for its release, and on 16 Dec 1980, Brigadier General Lyle Barker, deputy chief of affairs for the Army, lifted the ban. Shades of Gray (See Entry), a documentary-drama based on incidents portrayed in Let There Be Light , was produced in 1947 and released in 1948. Modern sources add the following credits: Photog John Doran, Lloyd Fromm, Joseph Jackman and George Smith; Ed Gene Fowler, Jr. and William Reynolds. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Los Angeles Daily News
23 Jan 1951.
---
Time
19 Jan 81
p. 80.
Variety
12 Nov 80
p. 26.
Variety
17 Nov 80
p. 1, 18
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Returning Soldier--The Psychoneurotic
Release Date:
16 December 1980
Production Date:
began 1945
Duration(in mins):
58
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During World War II, many soldiers suffering from injuries of a neuropsychiatric nature are sent to a special hospital for treatment. There, psychiatrists listen to the men's stories, which have in common death and the fear of death. The men will spend eight to ten weeks in the hospital. Treatment begins with physical exams to rule out any physical reasons for the soldiers' disorders. One soldier is diagnosed as suffering from psychosomatic paralysis. The doctor gives him a shot of sodium amytol, a drug which induces a state similar to hypnosis. Through conversation and suggestion, the paralysis is removed. The soldier is not completely cured, but doctors express confidence that the first step to recovery has been taken. The men engage in occupational therapy in order to "build rather than destroy." Sports help bring the men out of their emotional isolation, as does group therapy, during which the men learn that their feelings are common to others. Some problems, like amnesia, respond to hypnosis. During drug therapy, a stutterer is helped by recounting his battle experiences. As time passes, the men heal. In therapy, they wonder how they will be treated by their families and future employers if they reveal that they have been hospitalized for mental illness. Most agree that they will be honest and will be able to convince others that there is no shame attached to their ... +


During World War II, many soldiers suffering from injuries of a neuropsychiatric nature are sent to a special hospital for treatment. There, psychiatrists listen to the men's stories, which have in common death and the fear of death. The men will spend eight to ten weeks in the hospital. Treatment begins with physical exams to rule out any physical reasons for the soldiers' disorders. One soldier is diagnosed as suffering from psychosomatic paralysis. The doctor gives him a shot of sodium amytol, a drug which induces a state similar to hypnosis. Through conversation and suggestion, the paralysis is removed. The soldier is not completely cured, but doctors express confidence that the first step to recovery has been taken. The men engage in occupational therapy in order to "build rather than destroy." Sports help bring the men out of their emotional isolation, as does group therapy, during which the men learn that their feelings are common to others. Some problems, like amnesia, respond to hypnosis. During drug therapy, a stutterer is helped by recounting his battle experiences. As time passes, the men heal. In therapy, they wonder how they will be treated by their families and future employers if they reveal that they have been hospitalized for mental illness. Most agree that they will be honest and will be able to convince others that there is no shame attached to their condition. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.