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Posted January 22, 2009
wide-ranging influence and effects of American World War II movies
World War II films have always been recognized as quintessential patriotic movies. There are anecdotes of young men going directly from movies such as 'Salute to the Marines' and 'Fighting Seabees' to military recruiters. But the co-authors take a more analytic look at the broad category of American popular movies during the World War II years. They find that the category was more diverse than generally realized, and that its purposes and effects were more subtle than seen in the inspiring films of military exploits. For example, the movie 'Casablanca,' for all its film noirish intrigue and memorable performances, 'presented [the Germans] not only as bad but also as defeatable.' This was undoubtedly an important message for the American public in the early days of the War when the Germans appeared invincible in their conquest of the nations of Europe. Surveying the wide, diversified field of WWII films, the authors with academic backgrounds in literature at Illinois State U. examine how many films went beyond simply evoking patriotism to maintaining support for the War on the 'home front' and to forming perspectives and expectations on it and characterizing the enemy. The wartime films dealt with all significant aspects of the War, including portrayals of Russians, British, and other allies. The cycle of the films in relation to the course of the War is a thread of the wide-ranging, multidisciplinary study in a readable style appealing to film-lovers as well as ones interested in popular culture, social history, and cultural studies. Preston Sturges' June 1944 release 'Hail the Conquering Hero' coming near the end of the body of wartime films deals with the adjustment of servicemen returning to civilian life.
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