Communication and Culture | Hollywood at War
C420 | 0140 | Anderson


Please note that the room listings for class and screening sessions
have
changed since the publication of the Schedule of Classes.  Below are
the
correct room listings for class and screenings:

Class:  Monday-Friday, 2:35-3:50 p.m., Main Library E 173 (Media
Showing
Room)

Screening:  Tuesday, Thursday, 6:15-10:15 p.m., TV 251


Course description:

The motion picture industry in America reached a peak of cultural
influence and economic power during the 1940s, when theater owners
sold as many as ninety million tickets each week to a nation of avid
moviegoers, and the Hollywood studios raked in record profits.  As the
United States joined World War II at the end of 1941, the Hollywood
studios participated eagerly in the wartime mobilization of American
society, joining forces with the federal government to fight the war
on the cultural front with movies that rallied support for the war
effort.  Acclaimed directors like Frank Capra and John Ford made
government-sponsored documentaries that helped to explain
the war to the American public ­ contrasting the values of freedom and
fascism or depicting the bravery and sacrifices of actual American
soldiers.
At the same time, the studios produced dozens of feature films that
dramatized the war and depicted American soldiers as the nearly mythic
heroes familiar in Hollywood storytelling.  As a result, the movie
industry during World War II played a more central role in American
culture than it had ever played before.

Shortly after World War II ended, however, the Hollywood studios
found themselves fighting a different sort of war ­ one that
threatened to remove them from their position at the heart of American
popular culture.  In the post-war era, the studios faced challenges
that threatened to undermine the power and influence that they had
acquired over the previous decade.  We will examine these challenges
more closely during the course, but they include:  the Justice
Departmentıs efforts to dismantle the studio system,
the rapid spread of television, the growth of suburbs and the decline
of the urban audience, the rise of independent production, and
restrictions on overseas markets after the war.   For the Hollywood
movie studios, the 1940s were an amazing decade of "boom and bust."

We will view movies from the 1940s during evening screening
sessions.
Grades for the course will be based on classroom participation,
several brief essays, and a final examination.  Students with
questions may contact Professor Anderson by email at
anderso@indiana.edu.