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Going to the movies became a ubiquitous means of participating in patriotic culture closer to World War II. The Great Depression halted most memorial-building in its tracks, as memorials required huge local investments. In the 1910s, when movie palaces were still new, they became sites of moral panic for civic and community leaders concerned about sexual looseness and the corruption of American youth, even as only about one-third of the total population attended each week. However, by the 1920s, that number rose to half, and, by the 1930s, two-thirds of Americans took weekly trips to the movies. During WWII, studios supplied hundreds of fictional films torn from the headlines.There's so much more! I got to talk to some amazing people! My job doesn't pay bupkis but the work can be so good!! (And if you feel inclined to share, you can credit me at ejbergdahl.)
Simple, hagiographic narratives about the war predominated. In titles like So Proudly We Hail! (1943), Hell Is for Heroes (1962), and Saving Private Ryan (1999), WWII was "the good war," waged by the U.S. to crush fascism and imperialism. Hollywood did work closely with the War Department to produce pro-war documentaries during the war. But, historically, even films that are not government-funded, or those that have questioned American wars, have largely refused to condemn those who fight it. It is perhaps easier for film studios to sell a vision of Americans as principled heroes fending off all-threatening evil, rather than naïve young men fighting in a conflict of ambiguous nobility.