One World, Big Screen

One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, the Allies, and World War II

M. TODD BENNETT
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 376
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807837467_bennett
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  • Book Info
    One World, Big Screen
    Book Description:

    World War II coincided with cinema's golden age. Movies now considered classics were created at a time when all sides in the war were coming to realize the great power of popular films to motivate the masses. Through multinational research,One World, Big Screenreveals how the Grand Alliance--Britain, China, the Soviet Union, and the United States--tapped Hollywood's impressive power to shrink the distance and bridge the differences that separated them. The Allies, M. Todd Bennett shows, strategically manipulated cinema in an effort to promote the idea that the United Nations was a family of nations joined by blood and affection.Bennett revisitsCasablanca,Mrs. Miniver,Flying Tigers, and other familiar movies that, he argues, helped win the war and the peace by improving Allied solidarity and transforming the American worldview. Closely analyzing film, diplomatic correspondence, propagandists' logs, and movie studio records found in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the former Soviet Union, Bennett rethinks traditional scholarship on World War II diplomacy by examining the ways that Hollywood and the Allies worked together to prepare for and enact the war effort.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0146-5
    Subjects: History, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-23)

    Take another look. Newspapers the world over published a photograph midway through World War II that fixed the United Nations (UN)—the wartime alliance spearheaded by the United States, United Kingdom, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Republic of China (ROC)—in the public imagination. Taken in November 1943, the photo focused narrowly on three Allied leaders—Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston S. Churchill, and Joseph Stalin—sitting under the portico of the Soviet embassy in Tehran, site of the first Allied summit. By association, the image illustrates the political, military, and economic issues that the larger-than-life figures discussed, and these...

  6. 1 THE “MAGIC BULLET”: HOLLYWOOD, WASHINGTON, AND THE MOVIEGOING PUBLIC
    (pp. 24-52)

    In the 1940 Warner Bros. filmDr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, actor Edward G. Robinson plays Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the real-life Nobel Prize-winning German physician who discovered a cure for syphilis. A founder of what became known as chemotherapy, the doctor’s remedy involved a pharmacological “magic bullet,” a chemical toxin that selectively targeted and killed disease-causing organisms. Neither he nor his biopic addressed propaganda’s effectiveness. But another “magic bullet” theory, so prominent as to be conventional social scientific wisdom at the time of the picture’s release, did. Also called the “hypodermic needle” model, it boldly asserted that propaganda exerted tremendous power...

  7. 2 “PRO-BRITISH-AMERICAN WAR PREACHERS”: INTERNATIONALISM AT THE MOVIES, 1939–1941
    (pp. 53-88)

    Senator Gerald P. Nye had no doubt that Hollywood could move the masses. In fact, Nye and his fellow isolationists insisted that movies wielded disproportionate influence over U.S. foreign policy. The North Dakota Republican outlined the anti-interventionist case against the U.S. motion picture industry during a 1 August 1941 radio address. Speaking from St. Louis, Nye charged that films had “ceased to be instruments of entertainment” and had instead “become the most gigantic engines of propaganda in existence to rouse the war fever in America.” The onetime chair of the “Merchants of Death” probe, a mid-1930s congressional investigation that accused...

  8. 3 ONE WORLD, BIG SCREEN: THE UNITED NATIONS AND AMERICAN HORIZONS
    (pp. 89-135)

    During a White House ceremony on 1 January 1942, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston S. Churchill, Chinese foreign minister T. V. Soong, and Soviet ambassador to the United States Maxim Litvinov signed the Joint Declaration of the United Nations (un). Also endorsed by the representatives of twenty-two other countries that day, the declaration formally incorporated the United Nations, the multinational anti-Axis coalition whose disparate members hailed from six continents, spoke a cacophony of languages, and subscribed to a range of beliefs. As such, the document was also an exercise in public diplomacy that gave the appearance...

  9. 4 KISSING COUSINS: HOW ANGLO-AMERICAN RELATIONS BECAME “SPECIAL”
    (pp. 136-168)

    A family—mother, father, and two small children—huddles in an underground bomb shelter buried in the yard of their English country home. The year is 1940, and the Battle of Britain rages overhead. The shelter’s walls quiver, and debris falls as German bombs explode nearby. Although frightened, the members of the group survive the onslaught without serious injury. Others are not so fortunate, however, as is soon discovered: a close relative lies dead, and the family’s home, a universal symbol of safety and comfort, suffers heavy damage. That memorable scene helpedMrs. Miniver(1942), MGM’s portrait of a fictional...

  10. 5 COURTING UNCLE JOE: THE THEATRICS OF SOVIET-AMERICAN MATRIMONY
    (pp. 169-216)

    Following a sumptuous feast (and generous glasses of vodka), the guests, gathered around a Kremlin table in May 1943, toasted Soviet-American friendship. Soviet premier Joseph Stalin and foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov praised the United Nations. Foreign trade commissar Anastas Mikoyan and ambassador to the United States Maxim Litvinov followed suit. The Americans present—including the sitting U.S. ambassador, Admiral William H. Standley, and his predecessor, Joseph E. Davies—reciprocated. What distinguished this reception from others that periodically honored Soviet comrades was that Davies had arrived as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s special envoy and with a film that he and the president...

  11. 6 NEGOTIATING THE COLOR DIVIDE: RACE AND U.S. PATERNALISM TOWARD CHINA
    (pp. 217-255)

    An American scientist known to be at work on a top-secret project for the U.S. military has been murdered. His research is missing, stolen by the killers, Nazi agents, whose nefarious plan is to spirit it to Berlin. Not to worry, though: Charlie Chan saves the day. The Chinese American detective was quite familiar to moviegoers by the 1944 release ofCharlie Chan in the Secret Service. He had first appeared in a 1925 novel by pulp fictionist Earl Derr Biggers, inspired by tales of real-life Honolulu detective Chang Apana. Chan became a pop culture fixture over the ensuing two...

  12. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 256-274)

    Together, Hollywood and Washington projected an image of the United Nations as a family of nations. A term of endearment, the analogy normalized the otherwise unnatural alliance, personalized each of the UN’s Great Powers, and emotionalized the linkages among them. It had the added advantage of making easy sense to moviegoers, enabling filmmakers to reinterpret the UN’s constituent diplomatic partnerships as international romances or household dramas. A linguistic big tent that accommodated the Allies’ obvious differences, the comparison also implied trust and permanence, suggesting (in vain, it turned out) that the unbreakable bonds of kindred nations would remain intact after...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 275-320)
  14. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 321-342)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 343-362)