Scott Brandi: Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor

Historical Event Summary

Japanese Bombers Attack Pearl Harbor, Prompting the U.S. to Enter WWII- Dec. 7, 1941

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation after the events of Dec. 7, 1941, he called it “a date that will live in infamy”.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, literally forcing the United States to enter World War II. Although the war had been going on for almost ten years previously, the United States had managed to avoid military involvement until the direct and unprovoked attack. The newsreel of President Roosevelt’s speech itself looks like a movie from that time.

This event was relevant to everyone in the United States at that time, and it was even relevant to the U.S. film industry. The Japanese bombing caused everyone, even film makers, to take action.  Throughout the earlier years of World War II, with the United States on the sidelines, the movie industry had suffered because European nations had no interest in seeing American films. Many people in the United States were not going to the movies, either, because of the hardships of the Great Depression. The attack on Pearl Harbor gave the film industry a chance to show its patriotism and make films that would show the importance of participating in the War.  President Roosevelt created the Bureau of Motion Picture Affairs, which was supervised by the Office of War Information.  The studios themselves created the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry.

The studios made films that supported the war and made the leaders of the enemy nations look like the evil dictators that they were. The films they made used newsreel footage so the viewers could what was actually going on in the war. They showed the Japanese invading China and other countries, attacking them just as they had attacked the United States.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the effect was like waking everyone up to reality, including the film studios. The war was really going on, and the film makers could be patriotic and increase their revenues at the same time. The patriotic films were popular, so that the studios were able to make money they had not been making earlier. There was even a movie “December 7th”, which was released in 1943 by John Ford and Gregg Toland.  Many of the films had major stars in them.  Many of these stars, such as Jimmy Stewart and others, actually fought in World War II as well as starring in films about it.










Works Cited

Balio, Tino. The American Film Industry. University of Wisconsin Press, 1976. 222-227. Print.

Lewis, Jon. American Film- A History. London: WW Norton & Company, 2008. 161-168. Print.

“Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation.” American Rhetoric. N.p.. Web. 8 Oct 2013. <>.

Roosevelt, Franklin D. “Pearl Harbor Address.” Address. 8 December 1941.





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Go to a Drive-In, in Queens, without a Car

Is seeing a silent film, with live organist accompaniment, in a restored movie palace from the 1920s not enough to satisfy your thirst for recreating a forgotten form of watching movies? Starting this Friday, October 4, you can see films in a “drive-in” at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. No need to cross state lines.

The Empire Drive-In, which is more of an art installation than a bona fide drive-in movie theater, is open during the hall’s regular hours. On select days, however, it transforms into a drive-in theater. To create the drive-in experience, there are sixty cars and trucks, salvaged from a nearby junkyard, installed to accommodate visitors. The screenings run from October 4 through October 20, although you should check the schedule because they’re screenings films only on select days. On those days, the installation is only open until 2:00 PM, presumably to allow time to prepare that evening’s screening.

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Mary Pickford Film at a Movie Palace

The Loew’s Jersey, built in 1929, is a landmark movie palace that has been restored over the last few years to resemble its original state. Most movie palaces have been divided into multiplexes or were altered beyond recognition. Most end up as retail stores or are simply torn down. Sad.

To showcase their restoration work and to preserve a forgotten form of moviegoing, the Friends of Lowe’s Jersey screen silent movies on an occasional basis with live organ accompaniment.

They will be screening two films on Sunday, October 5, at 3:00 PM. My Best Girl (1926) stars Mary Pickford and the man she married after Douglas Fairbanks, Charles “Buddy” Rogers. To add to the authentic experience of the show, there will be live organ accompaniment during the screening. Neat! There will also be a short film, Movie Night, starring Charlie Chase. It’s a rare chance to see silent films as they would have been seen in their day.

The Lowe’s Jersey is located at 54 Journal Square, in Jersey City, across the street from the Journal Square PATH station, and there’s also parking.

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More on How the “Trust” Went Bust

A few updates.

Since we didn’t get to watch The Cheat in class, I recommend that everyone watch the Cecil B. DeMille film. It is widely regarded as one of the best films of the 1910s, and inspired many filmmakers throughout Europe, such as Eisenstein and many French filmmakers.

Happy watching!

To help understand the control the Motion Picture Patents Company exercised over the American film industry in the years following its 1908 formation and how the Independents disrupted their authority, I am linking to an article by Matthew Lasar on ArsTechnica about the MPPC. Moreover, I posted two chapters from Tim Wu’s book The Master Switch. You can access them from the course website.

Happy reading!

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American Film Industry, Fall 2013, Syllabus

Here’s yet another syllabus. This one is for American Film Industry at Queens College.

From the course description:

This course examines the economic history of the American film industry since 1912. We will also focus on the technological and cultural changes of the industry, and pay special attention to how film has responded to successes and challenges of the US film industry and the changes to its business practices.

This is the fourth iteration of this class I’ve done at Queens College, most recently in Fall 2011.

This is the class that almost didn’t happen. As late as last Wednesday, the class was "under-enrolled" at six students. I was told that it would probably have to be cancelled unless enrollments ticked up. Over the three-day weekend, as many as eleven students had enrolled. However, it wasn’t until Labor Day that I received a final confirmation that the class was a "go." That’s when I got to work on updating the 2011 syllabus, and in less than a day, I had this syllabus ready to go.

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Class 14: Hollywood’s Second Century

In today’s class, we surveyed some of the ways that Hollywood produces, markets, and exhibits films at the beginning of the 21st century. The methods include heavy focus on research, packaging of stars, heavy marketing, and innovations in exhibition.

We also reviewed for the final exam, to be held on Monday, December 19, at 1:45 PM.

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Class 13: Independent Hollywood

In today’s class, we covered some of the changes to exhibition that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly those which disrupted the old models of theatrical exhibition and even television distribution. Those changes made possible for certain filmmakers to work outside of the confines of the studio system and to launch a movement that would guide Hollywood for many years towards a middle-brow cinema known as “Independents,”

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Class 12: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the New Media Conglomerate

In today’s class, we surveyed some of the contributions Lew Wasserman made between the 1940s and 1980s to the Hollywood system. With the fall of the studio system, the role of the movie mogul had become all but irrelevant. Wasserman as an agent essentially controlled many movie projects in Hollywood because the actors and other talent under his representation worked in various media.

Moreover, he took MCA from a talent agency representing musicians in the Midwestern US to one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. One of the MCA properties would pioneer a new way to centralize the control of production and to market movies in a whole new way, giving birth to the modern movie blockbuster.

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Jaws and the New Hollywood Industry

While scholars debate when the auteurist New Hollywood movement ended—it was either Apocalypse Now or Heaven’s Gate—Hollywood began to abandon the auteur centered film for the big blockbuster in the mid 1970s. No film represents that shift more than Jaws.

The film’s theatrical trailer sets the tone using the conventions of the horror film. The trailer also mentions the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, which was the basis for the feature film. It was also curious that the film was released during the summer months, which was rare for a high profile motion picture in the 1970s. The fact that the film was about a shark attacking beach-goers undoubtedly resonated with audiences looking forward to summer recreation.

Jaws is also the first major Hollywood film to use television advertising. You can see the television spot below.

The television spot is not only a full minute in length, but it also warns the audience that the film might be “too intense for children,” taking advantage of the eight year-old MPAA ratings. Television ads such as this one ran on national television for a three-day period on an all three broadcast networks, when there were only three channels to watch on television, and bombarded audiences with such advertising. This blockbuster marketing helped to “front-load” attendance in the first weeks of the film’s release.

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Final Exam Date and Time Announced

As we all know, Queens College has been notoriously slow at releasing the final exam schedule. At long last, we have been assigned a date and time for our final exam.

It will be on Monday, December 19, at 1:45 PM. The exam period will last two hours.

As I will discuss in class on Monday, the final exam will be cumulative, covering all of the material from the entire course. In the meantime, kindly mark your calendars.

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