Hollywood helped win World War II, and by that, we don’t mean John Wayne, but five of the country’s most celebrated film directors, who went to work making films for the War Department that showed Americans at war, overseas and in the skies, living,fighting, bleeding and dying. Those films changed America and changed the men who made them, including John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, George Stevens, and Frank Capra.
It was the best of times and the worst of times for Hollywood before the war. The box offices were booming. But the industry’s relationship with Washington was decidedly uneasy. Hearings and investigations into allegations of corruption and racketeering were multiplying, and hanging in the air was the insinuation that the business was too foreign, too Jewish, too “un-American” in its values and causes. Could an industry this powerful in shaping America’s mind-set really be left in the hands of this crew? Following Pearl Harbor, Hollywood had the chance to prove its critics wrong and did so with vigor, turning its talents and its business over to the war effort to an unprecedented extent.
No industry professionals played a bigger role in the war than five of America’s most legendary directors: Ford, Wyler, Huston, Capra, and Stevens. Between them they were on the scene of almost every major moment of America’s war, and in every branch of service army, navy, and air force; Atlantic and Pacific; from Midway to North Africa; from Normandy to the fall of Paris and the liberation of the Nazi death camps; to the shaping of the message out of Washington, D.C.
Join host Dale Throneberry and his guest, award winning author Mark Harris.