The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II

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JHU Press, 2008 - History - 416 pages
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In this fresh look at moviemaking during the Great Depression, David Welky examines Hollywood’s response to the rise of fascism and the beginning of the Second World War. Through innovative analysis of hundreds of movies—including The Dawn Patrol, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and Sergeant York—Welky traces the shifting motivations and arguments of the film industry, politicians, and the public as they negotiated how—or whether—the silver screen should portray Nazism, depict conflict overseas, promote Americanism, and support President Roosevelt’s rearmament efforts.

Hollywood, Welky argues, was a primary player in the debate between interventionists and isolationists. These competing groups vied for influence and control over the message Hollywood offered the public—either scorning it for being too timid or attacking it for being too aggressive. The national debate reached a fever pitch in September 1941, when isolationists in the U.S. Senate staged widely publicized hearings, accusing the movie industry of warmongering.

While prewar Hollywood often reflected the principles of the Roosevelt administration, it also sometimes outpaced the cautious and politically astute president. Providing Americans with the psychological preparation they needed to enter World War II, popular movies familiarized audiences with the wartime experience, offered definitions of patriotism and Americanism, and established the fundamental distinctions between democracy and dictatorship.

Welky's depth of research and focused, analytical approach will be appreciated by historians as well as film buffs.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 A Wonderful Place
11
2 Fires at Home Fires Abroad
31
3 Fingers in the Dike
55
4 Misfires
71
5 New Directions
85
6 Good Neighbors
102
7 Serving America
116
Illustrations
220
14 Searching for a Voice
221
15 Closing the Ring
235
16 Weapons of Inspiration
250
17 Three ContinentsSpring 1941
264
18 Marching to War
280
19 Hollywood Triumphant
293
20 The End of Peace
312

8 The Widening Campaign
133
9 A Fine Pickle
153
10 A Winter of Discontent
163
11 Leading the Way
179
12 The Pivotal Month
193
13 Zanuck Makes His Stand
208
Conclusion
325
Notes
341
Essay on Sources
395
Index
405
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

David Welky is an assistant professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, the author of Everything Was Better in America: Print Culture and the Great Depression, and coauthor of Charles A. Lindbergh: The Power and Peril of Celebrity. He has also published articles in Film & History and Film Quarterly.

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