MovieChat Forums > Tunisian Victory (1944) Discussion > Special Effects supervised by Lee Zavitz

Special Effects supervised by Lee Zavitz

Some of the scenes in "Tunsian Victory" were filmed in the US in the desert between Palm Springs, California and Yuma Arizona. The scenes were filmed using actual soldiers from the 85th Infantry Division as extras. They were training at the Desert Training Center in the area of Yuma, AZ. The DTC was a large training area in southern California that was established to train armored units and to train infantry in desert warfare. The 85th Infantry Division trained in Camp Shelby, MS, then participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers before going to DTC in the heat of summer. After this training in September, they were sent across the country to Fort Dix, NJ, to make preparations for shipping overseas to Italy.
This movie was backed by the US Army and many of the scenes of the American troops involved tanks, aircraft and soldiers supplied by the Army. Lee Zavitz was special effects artist and obtained support from the 310 Combat Engineering Battalion of the 85th Division to assist with the explosions and pyrotechnics.
These scenes can be seen towards the end of the movie that includes a night attack scene. In one scene the camera focuses on a US soldier on the ground and the shoulder patch of the 85 Infantry Division is clearly visible.
I became aware of this when I was contacted by the family of a Veteran who served in the 310 Combat Engineering Battalion, 85th Infantry Division. This Veteran would later be killed in combat in Italy. His family said he met the daughter of Lee Zavitz while helping with this movie. The Veteran and his daughter continued to write each other during the war. After I was contacted by the family of the Veteran, I helped them locate a descendant of Lee Zavitz so they could exchange some of the letters that were written during the war.
Recently, I was given a newspaper article that also told about members of the 85th Division working as extras for this movie. This is the first piece of documentation that I have seen on this.
I was also told by the family that Lee Zavitz had a part in the burning of Atlanta scene in "Gone With the Wind" even though he was not listed in the credits.