Keeping Christmas
Introducing Gene Kelly

Hollywood and the Homefront

I think my first big project here will be about the Homefront, as Hollywood related to or pretended to relate to it. Advertising and editorials in Photoplay and LIFE, a few stories of what was going on, reactions to who fought, who boosted morale, and who objected, here in the United States.

Sometimes what people knew just at the moment could later be seen in a different light. For example, Lew Ayres is a topic all on his own. He was a serious conscientious objector, and people said, "But wait, he played that great war hero in that movie!" They were angry that he would not fight. Well, the movie was All Quiet on the Western Front. Have you seen it or read the book? It affected him deeply—how could it not?—and he refused to take up arms. But he did his bit nonetheless, and all the bits mattered. But more on that later.

Something I noticed in the 1940 issues of Photoplay is that they were already hinting toward economy and making the most of what you have, talking to girls and women about sewing patterns and interchangeable wardrobe pieces. How to make things last. A few months later, still before America entered the war, there were several articles on how the stars cooked with preserved food. And then there was a whole campaign about making America Strong! by having everyone eat lots of eggs, drink lots of milk. Rations came later; sugar was one of the first commodities to be limited.

Finally, the motion picture industry had a careful position to maintain. Always there were people crying for more lightheartedness, and other people saying they had a duty to seriousness and propaganda. Eleanor Roosevelt had some very intelligent things to say about it all. The studios themselves had stars they wished to protect, and a position to maintain; to be thought of in a positive light whenever the war ended.

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But in between posts on this subject, I'm likely to add random or serendipitous items, as well, so I'll make sure the titles reflect the content.

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