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One World, Big Screen

How Hollywood and the Allies Made a Global Family during World War II

M. Todd Bennett

Publication Year: 2012

World War II coincided with cinema's golden age. Movies now considered classics were created at a time when all sides in the war were coming to realize the great power of popular films to motivate the masses. Through multinational research, One World, Big Screen reveals how the Grand Alliance--Britain, China, the Soviet Union, and the United States--tapped Hollywood's impressive power to shrink the distance and bridge the differences that separated them. The Allies, M. Todd Bennett shows, strategically manipulated cinema in an effort to promote the idea that the United Nations was a family of nations joined by blood and affection.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xi

In various forms, this manuscript has been my almost constant companion for more than fifteen years. Together, we have traveled far on a circuitous route leading from Lubbock, Texas, to Washington, D.C., with stops in such places as Moscow, London, and Athens (Georgia, that is). On our...


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p. xiii

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pp. 1-23

Take another look. Newspapers the world over published a photograph midway through World War II that fixed the United Nations (UN)—the wartime alliance spearheaded by the United States, United Kingdom, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Republic of China (ROC)—in the...

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1. The “Magic Bullet”: Hollywood, Washington, and the Moviegoing Public

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pp. 24-52

In the 1940 Warner Bros. film Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, actor Edward G. Robinson plays Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the real- life Nobel Prize–winning German physician who discovered a cure for syphilis. A founder of what became known as chemotherapy, the doctor’s remedy involved a pharmacological...

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2. “Pro-British-American War Preachers”: Internationalism at the Movies, 1939–1941

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pp. 53-88

Senator Gerald P. Nye had no doubt that Hollywood could move the masses. In fact, Nye and his fellow isolationists insisted that movies wielded disproportionate influence over U.S. foreign policy. The North Dakota Republican outlined the anti-interventionist case against the U.S. motion...

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3. One World, Big Screen: The United Nations and American Horizons

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pp. 89-135

During a White House ceremony on 1 January 1942, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston S. Churchill, Chinese foreign minister T. V. Soong, and Soviet ambassador to the United States Maxim Litvinov signed the Joint Declaration of the United Nations...

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4. Kissing Cousins: How Anglo-American Relations Became “Special”

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pp. 136-168

A family—mother, father, and two small children— huddles in an underground bomb shelter buried in the yard of their English country home. The year is 1940, and the Battle of Britain rages overhead. The shelter’s walls quiver, and debris falls as German bombs explode nearby. Although...

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5. Courting Uncle Joe: The Theatrics of Soviet-American Matrimony

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pp. 169-216

Following a sumptuous feast (and generous glasses of vodka), the guests, gathered around a Kremlin table in May 1943, toasted Soviet- American friendship. Soviet premier Joseph Stalin and foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov praised the United Nations. Foreign trade...

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6. Negotiating the Color Divide: Race and U.S. Paternalism toward China

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pp. 217-255

An American scientist known to be at work on a top- secret project for the U.S. military has been murdered. His research is missing, stolen by the killers, Nazi agents, whose nefarious plan is to spirit it to Berlin. Not to worry, though: Charlie Chan saves the day. The Chinese American...

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pp. 256-273

Together, Hollywood and Washington projected an image of the United Nations as a family of nations. A term of endearment, the analogy normalized the otherwise unnatural alliance, personalized each of the UN’s Great Powers, and emotionalized the linkages among them. It had...


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pp. 275-319

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 321-342


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pp. 343-362

E-ISBN-13: 9781469601465
E-ISBN-10: 146960146X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835746
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835749

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 830023203
MUSE Marc Record: Download for One World, Big Screen

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Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Motion pictures and the war.
  • Motion pictures -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Motion pictures -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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