"Government movies are now having their greatest boom in history. The boom is tied to the war, but many capital observers believe that it will continue into the post war era, and that the large-scale production of films by the Government telling the people what's what and how to do it is here to stay."
When Hitler and Mussolini declared that they would no longer import Hollywood films for viewing, they inadvertently gave birth to a new kind of Hollywood - a Hollywood that would now produce movies criticizing European Fascism.
Read about Mission to Moscow (Warner Brothers, 1943) - made when Hollywood wished not to offend Stalin...
The Los Angeles of the late Thirties was plagued by a small coterie of Nazis; they were not terribly visible, but they were around, nonetheless. From time-to-time real Fascists from Europe would blow into town and they would be met by such groups as the Jewish Labor Committee, the United Anti-Nazi Conference and the Los Angeles Jewish Community Relations Committee. This article concerns another organization that worked shoulder to shoulder with these groups, but with a little more style: the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League. The League was 5,000 strong (likely an exaggeration) and within its ranks were Hollywood notables such as Herbert Biberman, Robert Rossen, Francis Edward Faragoh, Ring Lardner, Jr. and Dalton Trumbo.
We were very surprised to read in the attached editorial that the whole idea of draft deferments for actors and other assorted Hollywood flunkies was not a scheme cooked-up by their respective agents and yes-men, but a plan that sprung forth from the fertile mind of the executive officer in charge of the Selective Service System: Brigadier General Lewis Blaine Hershey (1893 - 1977) in Washington.
Always one to ask the difficult questions, Ernest V. Heyn (1905 - 1995) executive editor of Photoplay posed the query "Should Stars Fight?" and in this column he began to weigh the pros-and-cons of the need for propaganda and an uninterrupted flow of movies for the home front, and the appearance of creating a new entitled class of pretty boys.
Twenty years earlier a Hollywood actor would get in some hot water for also suggesting that talented men be excused from the W.W. I draft...
This article first appeared at the end of America's first full year of war and it is composed of the names and pictures of Hollywood's leading men who were absolved from fulfilling their military obligations during the war.
"The personalities of the fabulous films are on the spot in the matter of serving their country. It is useless to deny that the motion picture stars have been getting the best of it. Some have been given special draft deferments and choice assignments and often have been allowed extra months to finish their pictures before having to report for duty."
Click here to read about the American draft-dodgers of the Second World War.
War-torn Hollywood was at its best for the Academy Award Ceremony at the Coconut Grove Hotel in March, 1943. To no one's surprise, Mrs. Miniver walked home with most of the most coveted trophies.