Archives of the
"The Road to Victory"
World War 2 Historical Drama
RETAIL: $16.99 (us) $18.99 (can)
The Road to Victory: The Voices of World War II 1939 to VE Day, 1945.
Gerald Noxon (Writer). Lorne Greene (Narrator).
Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
Review by Alexander Gregor.
The Road to Victory was originally produced and broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in May 1945. It is described as a "dramatized documentary" and traces the course of the Second World War from its inception to the conclusion of hostilities in Europe (final victory in the Pacific was still pending when the broadcast was originally made). Some special attention is paid to Canadian involvement, though more in the way of indicating what the experience felt like to those directly involved and those left behind on the home front. Replete with the sonorous background music and resonant narration by Lorne Green, the recording provides a very effective sample of the character of radio broadcasts during a period when that medium was of such central importance in conveying rapidly changing day-to-day events. Because the recording was prepared at the conclusion of the major phase of combat, it quite naturally imposes a structure on events: the outcome is known; and what had earlier been inchoate and unpredictable events are now able to be organized into phases and stages in a completed narrative. An attempt is made, though, to convey something of the confusion and uncertainty ordinary people - Canadian and cockney alike - felt during the course of the war, through the use of "dramatized" dialogue. (This dialogue rather interestingly carries some of the inherent gender assumptions of the time, with nervous female voices asking the menfolk what was happening.) Interspersed through the narrative and dramatizations are excerpts from speeches of various of the principal characters in the drama - primarily Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, but also including H.D.G. Crerar (for Canadian interest), Adolf Hitler, Field Marshall Montgomery, Neville Chamberlain, King George VI, along with war correspondents - that important new media force that emerged during the course of this conflict. Some additional non-English speeches are presented in accented translation. Not surprisingly, the narrative presents the story as an heroic epic; but, in the main, it is an accurate and coherent rendition of events.
Though a little scratchy at times, the recording is remarkably crisp and does convey a good sense of the character and power of radio during one of its most important periods. As importantly, it does an effective job of conveying what things sounded like to ordinary people of the time, when this critically important medium was the principal source of information in a world full of constant threat and confusion. It will be interest to anyone who experienced that drama; and it will be of use in the classroom in affording an immediacy and empathy that the printed page cannot match.
Now retired, Alexander Gregor formerly taught educational history in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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TORONTO (CP) - It sounded like it had a cast of thousands, including Winston Churchill, Mackenzie King and King George. On May 8, 1945, CBC Radio broadcast live an epic hour-long docudrama entitled The Road to Victory, written by Gerald Noxon and narrated by Lorne Greene, the network's famous wartime voice-of-doom newscaster. This is the latest release from Toronto's Scenario Productions which, under an arrangement with the CBC, has been releasing both audio cassettes and now CDs of old-time radio transcriptions from the network's sound archives. Like others in the series, Road to Victory has some surface scratch and wow, but is otherwise remarkably clear for the limits of 1940s audio technology. The narration is somewhat
pompous in tone, too, as befitting the era, but the production values are slick, especially in the mix of dramatized vignettes that cover the war years from 1939 to VE Day, orchestral interludes, sound effects and archival speeches of the world leaders. Another release in the series is Wayne and Shuster: The Radio Years, a compilation of the best of the comedy duo's routines as aired on the CBC. Covering the years from 1959 to 1963, they include off-air recordings of such classics as Shakespearean Baseball, Rinse the Blood Off My Toga and Frontier Psychiatrist. - On the Net: www.scenarioproductions.com