Capra's War - The Psychology Of Why We Fight

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Capra's War - The Psychology of Why We Fight More than one celebrity headed for the army when war fever exploded across America. James Stewart and Clark Gable joined the air force. Tyrone Power joined the army. Bob Hope, Betty Grable, Marlene Deitrich, and others entertained the troops. Famous American director Frank Capra, becoming bored with the lack of an uphill battle in Hollywood, enlisted in 1941 with the anticipation of fighting the Germans, Italians, and Japanese with his fellow man. What he actually ended up doing, however, was much different than what he anticipated.

Capra was appointed as the head of the new Morale branch of the Signal Corp, and ordered to write films that would give the newly enlisted American men a reason to fight - "We are Special Services, morale builders," he was told by his superior, Col. Munson. "We will supply the draftees with entertainment that'll prove to the boys in arms what chumps they are to have left home - bands, pin-up girls in person, movies, comic books, bean balls, and don't forget the seven kinds of Jello.

You know, morale builders." (Capra, 320) A huge army was being raised up of men who had never used guns before, and the generals were convinced that they would prove superior to the professional armies of the enemy if given a reason to fight and die. The army felt that it couldn't produce films that were both sensitive and objective, and so they were overjoyed when Capra decided to enlist. According to General Osborn, "anyone that can lick the Establishment in Hollywood can lick it in the army." (Capra, 322) Although reluctant at first, Capra eventually realized how important his role was in the fight against the fascist powers - "I hated war," he wrote in his...