World War Two - Hollywood
After four hard years of watching sappy Hollywood drivel about the war and the home front, the censorship machine was finally dismantled - which allowed the servicemen to speak their minds about what they REALLY thought about those movies...
An article about director Gabriel Pascal (1894 – 1954) and all the assorted difficulties set before him, his cast and his crew while filming George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara" during the bombing of England in 1940.
Much of the article is composed of diary entries by an anonymous member of the cast:
"After dinner we had a script conference off the lot and kept on working through the air raid sirens, relieved to be away from the studio discipline. Tonight the sky was one vast blaze of searchlights, and no sleep for anyone. It's tough staying up all night and trying to work between raids all day..."
If you ever wondered how Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Barbara Stanwyck, Carmen Miranda, Veronica Lake, Charlie McCarthy or Edgar Bergen prepared their respective meals during the bad ol' days of food rationing during W.W. II - then you'll get your answer here:
"Hollywood has done a complete about-face and banned the lavish, costly dish.... These days when the inhabitants of Glamor Town take off their faces and sit down to dine, the taste may be varied, but every meal is eaten with the full knowledge that a quarter of a pound of butter or a pound of ground steak is just as rare in Hollywood as Wheeling, West Virginia."
Even the broad-shouldered, steely-hard men who toil daily over this website cry like little girls when exposed to the 1944 home front movie, Since You Went Away; for our money it was the best movie Hollywood ever produced about the war years.
That said, we invite you to take a gander at the attached photo-essay from CLICK MAGAZINE in which a spy camera using infrared film was used to capture the weeping masses sobbing in the dark of the theater as they watched that remarkable movie.
When the actor Lawrence Olivier (1907 – 1989) first heard that a state of war existed between Britain and Germany, he was enjoying the breezes off the shore of Southern California in a sailboat skippered by Hollywood's heir expectant, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and it was to Fairbanks that the attached letter was addressed. When this letter was written, Olivier was posted to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm where he gained the understanding that aeronautics was an acquired taste, and one that he simply could not cultivate. In his book International Stars at War, author James Wise noted that Flight Officer Olivier would soon be judged incompetent by the Royal Navy and released for other duties more in line with his abilities (like writing this highly self-conscious letter to his Hollywood friend).
Fairbanks, on the other hand, played an important roll in the U.S. Navy and by the war's end was sporting a chest-full of ribbons.
Paulette Goddard (1910 – 1990) is pictured in color wearing an all-purpose uniform designed by the Hollywood stylist Irene (Irene Lentz, 1900 - 1962). The actress was a sporadic volunteer, having appeared in four films throughout 1942.
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