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How did movies get to the Europe during WWII?


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I recently read an article that said "Mrs. Minniver" was the top earning movie in the UK during 1942. How did Hollywood movies get to Europe during WWII? Surely the troopships had more important things to transport across the ocean than American melodramas.

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That's an interesting question. I don't know if this was the case for every American film, but a lot of times the studios just sent over one dupe negative and made the prints over there so a lot of space wasn't needed. Remember, while we all think of the convoys we've seen in movies, there were still commercial passenger liners going back and forth that also took cargo so I doubt that any vital war supplies were left on the dock to make room for the movies.

 

I used to know an old projectionist who was stationed in England during the war and assigned to the Army Motion Picture Service. He said that the 16mm prints sent to show to the troops were given the same priority as mail because of the morale value. He also said that they usually were flown over either in cargo planes or sometimes in brand new bombers that were being sent over to be put into service. Again, because they were relatively small, a couple of hundred cases of film wouldn't take up that much room.

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Another thing to remember is that actually movies were extremely important to the war effort. They had their own particular roles to play right along with troops, and getting at least some of them to Europe was thus worth the investment.

 

In my schooldays I memorized the concluding speech from MRS. MINIVER for a history/speech project and did some research on it. Churchill is said to have called MRS. MINIVER

"more powerful to the war effort than the combined work of six military divisions."

 

Other movies played similar roles, either directly providing inspiration for the war effort or simply diverting people during times of extreme stress, as well as indirectly communicating American values to European audiences.

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> {quote:title=MovieFanLaura wrote:}{quote}

> In my schooldays I memorized the concluding speech from MRS. MINIVER for a history/speech project and did some research on it. Churchill is said to have called MRS. MINIVER "more powerful to the war effort than the combined work of six military divisions."

 

Was this in America or in the UK?

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> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote} Also, I believe a lot of Hollywood movies produced at the time didn't make it to Europe until after the end of the war.

 

That's true too. American films were banned in Germany and German occupied countries so distribution was limited to allies like Britain and neutral countries such as Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland.

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Most of the great films, even the not so great were banned by the Nazis in occupied Europe. They were seen as subversive allied propaganda which might have undermined their terrible hold on all of the conquered nations.Any sign of rebellion would have been crushed anyway.

After the war, Europe was absolutely starved for films. It ws a unique opportunity for good American films to be distributed for movie hingry audience, until such time that native French, Italian, even German cinema could be revived. Which is why, the French absolutely adored , analysed and often imitated crime, gangster, suspense, espionage films so much. The term FILM NOIR arose at this time The brilliant use of light and shadow was greatly appreciated by the French. It was as if many of the great European directors who left in the 30's because of Nazi oppression had seemingly triumphed by virtue of their cinematic art. This is just my opinion,but many might agree with the observation.B.G.

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Bruce, you make some very good points. I remember reading someplace that when Germany invaded a country, one the first things they did was gather up all the American films and destroyed them. However, distributors and theater owners risked their lives to hide as many American films as they could. As a result, just days after the Germans were pushed out of say a major city like Paris, American films would start running in cinemas again. True they were all old, prewar releases, but nobody cared. All that mattered was that they were American films. That was a true sign that freedom had returned.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=MovieFanLaura wrote:}{quote}

> > In my schooldays I memorized the concluding speech from MRS. MINIVER for a history/speech project and did some research on it.

>

> That's what some history books call "The Wilcoxon Speech". It's on YouTube.

 

It's well named: Henry Wilcoxon and William Wyler stayed up all night writing it, as it had to be shot the next morning literally hours before Wilcoxon was due to leave for extended service with the U.S. Coast Guard.

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