Hollywood and World War II

Monday, March 03, 2014

Legendary directors John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens played major roles in World War II. Mark Harris tells the story of how World War II changed Hollywood and how Hollywood changed World War II through the prism of those five film directors—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. In Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, Harris examines how the war divided the lives of these men into before and after.


Mark Harris

Comments [3]


The atrocities at Dachau and all other concentration camps in Germany itself had NOTHING to do with the mass extermination of the Jews by the Nazis. The only camps that historians say had gas chambers were in Poland. What the Allies saw in the Dachau camp as far as starvation was because at the end of the war, Germany was so devastated that no food supplies got through to the camps.

Mar. 03 2014 02:48 PM
genejoke from Brooklyn

This guy just finished up on Lopate, and now he's on Fresh Air. Why would I listen to the same guest twice in the same day??
Anyone paying attention over at WNYC?

Mar. 03 2014 02:08 PM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

In the Oct. 15, 1945 Issue of Life Magazine, was a letter from Bessie Stewart praising the cover picture of her son, Jimmy, on the Sept. 24 issue. Life chronicled his homecoming to Indiana, Pa.

Jimmy Stewart was a bomber pilot. He flew more than 20 missions over Europe, including the harrowing Oct. 14, 1943 mission over Schweinfurt attacking German ball bearing factories. He never talked much about it, appearing in the TV series The World at War as just "James Stewart, Squadron Commander.”

Stewart enlisted as a private in 1941 and rose to colonel in four years, a rare accomplishment. He was promoted to Brigadier General in the Air Force reserve in 1959. Jimmy Stewart died in 1997 at 89.

John Wayne did not serve. He was reclassified from a 3-A family deferment to 1-A right before D-Day but Republic Studios got him a 2-A deferment, essential civilian activity — Wayne toured hospitals and bases in the South Pacific for 3 months in 1943 and 1944. It has been suggested that Wayne became superpatriot because of guilt that he didn’t serve.

Ronald Reagan was classified for limited service because he was so nearsighted. He made training films during the war and never left the U.S.

Here’s a partial list of those who did serve: Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Charles Bronson, Tony Curtis, James Arness, his brother Peter Graves, Eddie Albert, Harry Belafonte, Ernest Borgnine, Kirk Douglas, Ed McMahon, Gene Autry, Tony Bennett, Lee Marvin, Mel Brooks, Raymond Burr (Perry Mason), Richard Burton, Clark Gable, Alec Guiness, James Doohan (Scotty on Star Trek), Desmond Llewelyn (Q in the Bond movies), Rod Serling (Twilight Zone), Robert Stack (the Untouchables), Sterling Hayden (General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove), Charlton Heston….it goes on and on. Many were wounded and were awarded medals for bravery.

Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II, winning the medal of honor. He became a movie star after the war, making 44 movies, mostly westerns and played himself in To Hell and Back. He was killed in an airplane crash in 1971

Mar. 03 2014 01:22 PM

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