Ferguson: War movies (2-16-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (February 16, 1944)


Ferguson: War movies

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

A young air cadet from Newport, Arkansas, questions the wisdom of my criticism of grim war movies.

He says:

If you refer to the blood-and-thunder Hollywood melodramas, I agree. However, there have been excellent semi-official reels which depict battle scenes as they truly are.

If the soldier can look upon and participate in such chaos, why can’t the civilian stomach it? The people at home have failed their fighting men if they turn their faces from death and ignore their sacrifices. I say more power to official movies which bring home with force the fact that men are giving their lives for freedom.

His point is well taken, although he seems to have missed mine. What I object to about the official war picture is their presentation. They always come to us tied up with some Hollywood feature or short, which means that the audience gets a hodgepodge of the true and the false.

Duty doesn’t enter into the question. People don’t go to the movies from a sense of duty. They go to be entertained.

A poll taken recently among soldiers shows their preference for the lighter, gayer types.

There should be special programs of war pictures offered. Perhaps every adult should be required to see them, but the honest course is to separate the phony from the real. As it is, audiences are asked to skip quickly from a battle to a jitterbug contest or a Looney cartoon. It results in mental confusion. In the end, the war briefs seem as unreal as the movie plot.