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Part One: Hollywood Helps

During World War II, all of Hollywood mobilized in support of the war effort.  Working with the Office of War Information and other government agencies, the studios produced short films for homefront audiences that conveyed the government’s wartime agenda in a creative and entertaining way.  This collaboration between the film industry and the OWI is extensively represented in the Academy’s War Film Collection.

In addition to producing films, the Hollywood community also devoted many hours in voluntary service to the war effort.  The Hollywood Victory Committee organized USO camp shows featuring Hollywood stars and other entertainers.  Bob Hope, Martha Raye and countless others toured tirelessly, both in the U.S. and overseas.  On the homefront, many Hollywood stars made personal appearances at war bond rallies and other fundraising events, or volunteered with the Red Cross or other organizations. 

The Hollywood Canteen, whose founders included Bette Davis and John Garfield, opened its doors in 1942.  With a volunteer staff of Hollywood’s biggest stars, the Canteen featured refreshments as well as music and dancing, and was open to all servicemen and women free of charge.  Within its first year, the Canteen was visited by more than a million guests.

War Films

Food and Magic
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"Food and Magic" (1943)

Jack Carson plays a carnival magician who educates Americans about reducing food waste in their homes to help the war effort. His tips include making soup from leftovers, creative combination of the food groups for added nutrition, and planning victory gardens.


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The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith
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"The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith" (1943)

In this gripping and dramatic portrayal of a US prisoner awaiting his execution in a Japanese prison camp, actor George Reeves plays Tom Smith, a pilot reflecting on his life back home as he writes his last will and testament. This powerful short also stars Lionel Barrymore as Tom’s patriotic grandfather.

This war short film contains language and cultural references that will seem inappropriate to a contemporary audience. Please consider the historical circumstances that influenced its creation.


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Prices Unlimited
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"Prices Unlimited" (1944)

In one of the quirkiest films within the Academy War Film Collection, two working women enter an alternate world where food rationing prices are lifted. In a dream sequence, a butcher leads the ladies to the ration board, where they meet the “evil” chairman who explains why ceiling prices are necessary.


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Public Service Announcements

Prices Unlimited
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"A Message of Importance" and "The Fighting Generation"

Hollywood artistry was a vital weapon in the home-front fight to increase war bond sales. In late 1944,William Meiklejohn and Eddie Bracken delivered "A Message of Importance," and Alfred Hitchcock, Gregg Toland and Jennifer Jones worked on the Sixth War Loan drive trailer "The Fighting Generation," both of which urged weary audiences to continue contributing money to military efforts.

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