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.
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. <http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrpearlharbor.htm>.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. “Pearl Harbor Address.” Address. 8 December 1941.