Jonathan Rayner
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Hollywood and the one-ocean war
in The naval war film
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The contribution of the American film industry to the war effort can be divided chronologically between preparatory propagandist films and combat films. It was the feature films that constituted the most visible, accessible and influential product for home and international audiences, and the ‘most potent weapon of war in Hollywood's arsenal’. The proficiency of Hollywood in the production of genre films was an advantage for the delivery of formulaic war films, which were in any case derived from pre-war generic staples. These war films represent the American film industry's most prolonged and committed engagement ‘in documenting and making American history’. John Ford's They Were Expendable bears comparison with In Which We Serve as the definitive naval war film and tribute to the US Navy. The history of US naval aviation, from its inception to the arrival of jet aircraft, is recounted through documentary footage and fictional characters in Task Force.

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The naval war film

Genre, history, national cinema


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