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Jack Wilson

From Our West Coast Correspondent

Hollywood Swings into the War Drive

(January 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 4, 27 January 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The band just finished a hot number. Without waiting for the applause to die down, it softly swung into God Bless America. The pasty-faced orchestra leader walked up to the mike. He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and began to rant.

“America is the home of democracy, where we are all free and equal. We must beware of the fifth column, etc., etc.”

Just as we began to laugh at what’ we considered a fairly clever takeoff on the current vogue for patriotism, the cornet blared out with a stirring Army bugle call. A roll of drums thundered off the stage.

Out marched a regular Army color guard, with a bevy of beauties trailing behind it. The orchestra played the Stars and Stripes Forever, while this contingent paraded around the stage.

The audience stood up and cheered. The music stopped. A stupid looking lieutenant stiffly walked out from off stage, saluted the band leader, then the audience, and said:

“The United States Army welcomes this opportunity to invite young men to join the colors, etc., etc.”

While we cursed our luck in getting into this kind of situation at one of the largest theaters here, and awaited the moment when the cuties left the stage to come marching down with volunteer cards for the Army, the fellow next to me said, “My God, just like the movies.”

No Bottleneck in War Movies

Just like the movies! How perfectly expressed. For despite the Hays office denials, Hollywood war production is in full bloom, there are no bottlenecks. Every one has knuckled under.

And we are not referring to the usual tripe which has poured out in the last year. The Warner Brothers shorts with their horrible distortion of American history. Or the flag-waving, and the playing of the Star Spangled Banner at all theaters.

Or to the alleged anti-Nazi movies which in reality were pro-British and pro-war. The financial failure of these movies (I Married a Nazi, etc.) are used by Hollywood apologists to prove Hollywood won’t make pro-war pictures since they don’t go over. Those efforts were too crude, satisfying only to the intelligence of a Hollywood producer.

There are bigger fish to fry now. When President Roosevelt had Carole Lombard and Clark Gable at his side while he whipped up the war spirit in his last radio address, he showed how well Washington understands the role of Hollywood these days.

First, Hollywood has been given the difficult job of selling the draft to the young men. Of popularizing it with the people. And the best comedy talent out here has been drafted to put over Army life to the country. Four studios are rushing to get the message across to the public. Bob Hope’s Caught in the Draft, is supposed to be the killer-diller. And you should see the Army hostesses in the movie plays! They aren’t missing a trick.

Orders have gone around in the largest studios to put patriotic speeches everywhere possible. Fathers talking to sons and mothers to daughters and vice versa must now speak of duty to their country. One movie was held up this week to put some of that stuff in.

Deanna Durbin’s latest production was shifted around so a couple of Army scenes could be crammed in. You’ll have a hard time finding any movie from now on, that doesn’t obviously use the war-mongering leit-motif.

And the campaign to sell Yankee imperialism to the South Americans is just getting under way. Hollywood burned its fingers with Down Argentine Way. It insulted the intelligence of the South Americans too much. But they have brought in a flock of experts and expect to mend their ways.

Navy pictures always did their bit for Uncle Sam. They’ll glorify life on the sea on a grand scale now. What about the Negro messboys on the Philadelphia? What vulgar person brought that up?

Pinks Fall Off Stalinist Wagon

All the “pink intellectuals” who played ball with the Stalinists in the pro-Roosevelt days have fallen off the band-wagon here. Some like Melvyn Douglas went through a public confession via a stinkeroo like He Stayed For Breakfast. All these mental guttersnipes spend their spare time devising ways and means to repudiate their past and help Roosevelt save America for Wall Street.

Once it was the vogue to be pro-labor. And to be a member of some committee or another which the Stalinist set up to milk the unsuspecting. Only the haughty British colony looked down on these plebeian activities.

Now the British colony reigns over the social life in Hollywood veritably like the Viceroy does over the Indian masses. Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s phoney English accent finally is taken seriously.

Stars go on national tours now to show Hollywood has the country’s welfare at heart. The train loads which tour the villages on the way to a world premiere make a stock in trade of patriotic speeches to the “yokels,” while inside the train ...

Drunken orgies have been dignified now. It’s all a patriotic duty! And the newspapers have the nerve to print a full page of pictures showing the glamour boys and gals getting pie-eyed at an alleged benefit.

No Nero fiddling while Rome burned surpasses the Hollywood colony of today in cynicism, decadence and debauchery. History has seen this spectacle before. In Babylon, in the France of Louis XV, in Czarist Russia.

The hand writing on the wall is clear.

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