A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO Chicagoland during WW II


A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO, narrated by legendary journalist Bill Kurtis, is a comprehensive telling of nearly everything that happened in Chicagoland during World War II. 

This one-hour documentary won the 2018 Chicago International Television Festival Gold Plaque Award for best nonfiction program, and is currently airing on more than 130 public television stations across the country.

This film is a co-production with WTTW Chicago and was underwritten exclusively by the Chicago Marine Heritage Society and its Chairman, Capt. Dave Truitt.

Just prior to America’s involvement in World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) called on the country to become “an arsenal of democracy”, to start producing war materiel to help defeat the Axis powers. Through firsthand accounts, de-classified films, period images, A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO  explores how the Windy City answered that call, and how a friendship between FDR and Chicago mayor Ed Kelly, a “Big City Boss”, helped to set everything in motion. The  film reveals how the Chicagoland was transformed into a well-oiled production machine; with every racial, ethnic and religious group and every man, woman and child mobilizing to support the war effort.

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Highlights include rare footage of FDR’s 1937 “Quarantine Speech,” delivered in Chicago to warn of the coming war; Nobel Prize winning physicist Enrico Fermi creating the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago leading to the development o f t h e  atomic bomb; the formation of PK Wrigley’s All American Girls Baseball League, the capture of a Nazi spy from Chicago, the mob’s exploitation of servicemen using prostitution and gambling, and interviews with Japanese and German-American internment and POW camp survivors.

JOHN DAVIES (Executive Producer/Writer/Director) is a multi-Emmy Award winning filmmaker who has created series, specials and documentaries for almost every major network and cable outlet, including NBC, ABC, FOX, MTV, AMC, TRU-TV, BRAVO, VH-1, A&E, LIFETIME, ESPN, & COMEDY CENTRAL. His SHOWTIME documentary Phunny Business was hailed as “one of the best documentaries of 2012” by film critic Roger Ebert.

BRIAN KALLIES (Co-Executive Producer/Editor/Director of Photography) is an independent filmmaker who has produced, edited and directed documentaries, specials, and series for SHOWTIME, TRU-TV, WGN, BBC, ESQUIRE TV, and Public Television. Brian directed and edited the national Public Television documentary Everglades of the North (2012), which inspired a national wildlife preserve.

WTTW CHICAGO produces and presents a wide array of engaging content for tt h e national public media system. In addition to its landmark music series Soundstage, other WTTW Chicago series include 10 That Changed America, MEXICO — One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless, and the animated series Nature Cat. For more information, please visit wttw.com/national.

AMERICAN PUBLIC TELEVISION is a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. Among its 300 new titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies, including Rick Steves’ Europe, Newsline, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, Murdoch Mysteries, and Doc Martin.

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