I Dare Say – Films for fighting men (3-7-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (March 7, 1944)


Films for fighting men

By Florence Fisher Parry

I must get over a bad habit: sparing the movies whenever possible. They’re a pet of mine, as you all must know by this time; and whenever I have to pan them I notice that it comes hard. They’re doing such a grand job in wartime, and heaven knows there’s little that we can blame them for here on the home front.

No doubt they have problems beyond our power to imagine, in distribution of film to our combatants in far parts. But the fact is that they have NOT been getting new movie fare to our boys. They feed them good OLD feature pictures, 1940 to 1942 vintage, sometimes very much older, and a few new Class B discards.

But our boys far from home get practically no up-to-date Class A feature pictures, and they’re starving for them. Movies come next to letters from home. They’ll wait in line, they’ll sit in the rain, they’ll squat on the ground dry OR wet, they’ll ensure these hardships gladly for the chance to see a movie – and what do they get? Leftovers and stale outdated newsreels and double feature fill-ins.

This is not so at our Army camps here at home. The boys get the latest and best. But imagine a fellow in some Pacific island or bleak Aleutian outpost waiting for ours in line to see some politician back in 1941 addressing a meeting, or a peacetime feature picture fill of anachronisms that throw out the movie’s whole mood!

No war stuff!

And if and when we DO manage to get our boys up-to-date pictures, let us hope that they will be selected with some discrimination. Their tastes are not our tastes, their needs not out needs. Even their sense of humor has changed. They need healthy pictures full of action, fun and music. Obviously they don’t want war stuff unless it’s really fine. And even then, they don’t like it.

Up home a man who has been discharged some time now after having won the Purple Heart because of a bad wound sustained in one of the landings in North Africa was reproached:

You haven’t seen Casablanca! Why, what an omission! It got the Academy Award as the best picture of the year!

“Yeah,” he replied laconically.

Well then, why don’t you go to see it? It’s here now.

“Oh,” he yawned, “I was there.”

And when I told a young major in the Marines, just returned home after 18 months in the Southwest Pacific, about that wonderful Technicolor newsreel of the landing at Tarawa, now showing in Pittsburgh, he said:

Yes, I’ve heard about it. But the part I know about wasn’t in the picture. It was cut, for obvious reasons.

You could tell by his eyes what the “obvious” reasons were. We think we are tough on the home front, but we’re soft and still afraid to face what combat means.

Tune in!

In reply to a recent column in which I confused that I had had to tune out every sermon I’d tuned into on a certain Sunday, I got a number of really helpful letters recommending programs I’d evidently missed. Here are some of them:

  • The Pilgrim Hour, 2:00 p.m. Sunday, WCAE.
  • The Old-Fashioned Revival, 7:00 p.m. Sunday, WCAE.
  • The Catholic Hour, 6:00 p.m. Sunday, KDKA.
  • Bishop Pardue’s broadcast, 10:30 p.m. Monday, WCAE.

Florence has a very valid point today in describing the difference in needs and wants of military men compared to the home front. The gap that existed in 1944 is something that exists in this year as well. The home front means well but does not understand.