Hollywood Enlists! Propaganda Films of World War II

Ralph Donald. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (252p) ISBN 978-1-4422-7726-7
Donald (Women in War Films), a mass communications professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, returns to a subject he knows well: war films. This study examines propaganda within Hollywood fiction feature films produced during and related to American involvement in WWII. This specific focus omits documentaries, newsreels, and cartoons. After an opening chapter discussing the relationship between the American government and the film industry, Donald breaks down five “appeals,” categories of Hollywood propaganda. These include the “guilt appeal,” which stressed that the enemy was the aggressor and dragged our peaceful nation into war; the “Satanism appeal,” wherein the enemy is defined through negative, dehumanizing characteristics; the “illusion of victory appeal,” which assures that our victory is predetermined; the “apocalyptic/Biblical appeals,” the former being a direct invocation of the Biblical books of Revelations and Daniel, and the latter a more general “God is on our side” message; and the “territorial appeal,” meant to convince the public that the country itself is at risk. Unfortunately for non-specialists, Donald doesn’t describe the plots of most of the films he covers, and he doesn’t devote much time to most individual titles. The resulting book, despite some intriguing ideas, isn’t ideal for either scholars or general readers. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 274 pages - 978-1-4422-7727-4
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