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A Lady Fights Back (1944)

The saga of the Normandie is recounted from her life as a luxury liner, the horrific fire that nearly destroyed her, and her resuscitation to join in the war effort


John Nesbitt


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Cast overview:
John Nesbitt ... Narrator


The "lady" of the title is the French luxury liner Normandie. When it was built, it was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner afloat. On its maiden voyage in 1935, she set a trans-Atlantic speed record that stood for 3 years. When war came to Europe in the late 1930s, she was moored in New York to keep her out of German hands. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government seized the ship, renamed her the USS Lafayette, and started refitting her as a troop carrier. A fire in February 1942 gutted her, and so much water was used to extinguish the fire, that she listed and lay on her side at her New York pier. It took about 17 months to get her shipshape again to serve in the war. Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@verizon.net>

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Documentary | Short








Release Date:

11 November 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Passing Parade #50: A Lady Fights Back See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Normandie is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric ship ever built, rated at 200,000 hp maximum output. See more »


The narrator states the ship was "longer than the Empire State Building - more that a thousand feet". This is incorrect. The Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall (1,454 feet if you include the mast). The Normandie's overall length was only 1,029 feet. See more »


Follows One Against the World (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Great for History Buffs
10 August 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Lady Fights Back, A (1944)

*** (out of 4)

The 50th entry in MGM's Passing Parade short isn't like many in the series, which usually told people stories from the past that they might have forgotten or didn't know at all. This entry tells us the story of the French ship Normandie and how it started out as a luxury liner before the war when it was nearly destroyed due to a major fire. This film really doesn't work too well as part of John Nesbitt's series but it does work as a part of history. There's a lot of stock footage of various voyages of the ship as well as a lot of footage from the eventual fire, which took place on the shores of Manhattan. Seeing this footage is certainly a big treat especially for fans of history and I'm sure it's history buffs who will get the majority of entertainment out of this. I really enjoyed hearing the brief story of this ship and it was interesting to see some of the items on board the ship including the rather amazing wine cellar. It's also worth noting, as the film does, that the rich folks dogs got better food than most humans were eating at the time of the war.

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