WWII and Hollywood: A Leading Role in the Victory Efforts with Katherine Orloff

WWII and Hollywood: A Leading Role in the Victory Efforts with Katherine Orloff


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Join us for an exploration of the influences Hollywood filmmakers and stars had in the World War II Victory Cause across the United States. Together we will discover the important contributions of filmmakers — editors, cinematographers, and members of the working crew — who developed the training films that prepared the drafted military more quickly than ever politicians ever thought would be possible.

When the Office of War Information was created in 1942, the motion picture industry had already begun making films sympathetic to democratic values.  Anatole Litwak’s “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” released by Warner Bros. in 1939 was the first major studio release to take on the Nazi threat directly.  But after Pearl Harbor and the US entry into the war, FDR knew that narrative film would only be part of what the armed forces and the US population needed.

Under the auspices of what became known as the War Office, the motion picture industry rallied to the cause.  Movie stars like James Stewart and Clark Gable enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became pilots and gunners, A-list directors including John Ford, John Huston, George Stevens, Frank Capra, and William Wyler put their careers on hold to shoot documentary footage of the war on both the Pacific and European fronts.

Perhaps the most important element of all was the establishment of the First Motion Picture Unit, filmmakers both behind and in front of the camera, who came together to create over 300 films that trained scores of enlisted troops in the critically important skills they needed to stay alive and help win the war.

Led by a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, together we will gather an understanding of the role cinematography plays, and continues to play, in the national identity, morale, and experiences across the United States of America.

Katherine Orloff is currently an associate professor teaching film and journalism courses at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, after a career in feature film production and marketing, and a stint as a field producer at NBC News "The Today Show." She has also contributed to the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago-Sun Times and numerous newspapers across the country on rock music. She is a second-generation member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and represents East Coast publicists on the National Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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