War Films Essay Research Paper In the

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War Films Essay, Research Paper In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American war were grist for American movies' mill, mostly in romantic flag-wavers which boasted little action. The war film as it is known today — violent dramatizations of men in combat — emerged with the world's first experience of modern warfare, World War I. This study therefore excludes films set against conflicts of previous centuries; readers should consult the articles on epic and historical films for the treatment of pre-20th-century wars. This article will focus chiefly on the films built around the combat of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In the mid teens, as Europe sank into war, pacifist feelings

were still strong in America. Woodrow Wilson, having kept America out of the conflict, was re-elected President in 1916. That same year, three important films denouncing war were released. D.W. Griffith's experimental masterpiece Intolerance included the bloody fall of Babylon among its four narratives; Civilization, directed by Thomas H. Ince, depicted a Christlike pacifist who warns against war; and Herbert Brenon's War Brides starred Alla Nazimova as a woman who kills herself and her unborn baby rather than supply the next generation of cannon fodder. In April of 1917 America entered the Great War; by that year, Intolerance had flopped at the box-office, Civilization was being sold as the anti-German drama it really was, and War Brides was withdrawn from circulation.

Dominating the screen was producer/director Cecil B. De Mille, who with writer Jeanie Macpherson made two popular war dramas: Joan The Woman (1917), which combined narratives of Joan of Arc and a modern soldier fighting to help France, and The Little American (1917), in which Mary Pickford was menaced by bestial Huns. The latter's success, along with the pro-war fever sweeping the nation, established a pattern for America's 1918 films set on the battlefields of Europe. Griffith's Hearts Of The World starred Lillian Gish; Erich von Stroheim had a minor role as a Prussian brute, and soon was committing atrocities in The Unbeliever and The Heart Of Humanity. Other films that year include Lest We Forget, The Kaiser — Beast Of Berlin, and For Valor. Griffith also included the war in

The Great Love and The Greatest Thing In Life, as did De Mille in Till I Come Back To You. Although the conflict ended in November of 1918, Hollywood continued to fight it in many 1919 releases, such as False Faces, The Unpardonable Sin, and Griffith's The Girl Who Stayed At Home. In France, Abel Gance made the anti-war J'Accuse, using real soldiers and footage shot at the front. Audiences of the 1920s wanted to forget the last decade's tragedies, but four noteworthy films found box-office gold re-opening old wounds. The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1921), directed by Rex Ingram, made a star of Rudolph Valentino. The Big Parade (1925), produced and directed by King Vidor, was a moving account of doughboys fighting in France. What Price Glory? (1926), directed by Raoul Walsh,

adapted the hit play by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings. Wings (1927), directed by former pilot William A. Wellman, offered dazzling scenes of aerial combat. Wings also made a star of Gary Cooper, who returned to the air in 1928 with Wellman's The Legion Of The Condemned and Lilac Time, produced and directed by George Fitzmaurice. Flying aces were equally popular in talkies, with two 1930 features: The Dawn Patrol, directed by Howard Hawks, and Hell's Angels, directed by Howard Hughes. Hughes' dialogue director was James Whale, who debuted as a director that same year with the bleak Journey's End, adapting the R.C. Sherriff play which he'd also staged in London. The year's classic, however — and one of the classics of American sound film — was director Lewis