Hollywood’s Influence On Post War America Essay

1043 words - 5 pages

As the war came and end, Hollywood was at the height of its glory days, producing about 440 films per year, with 1946 being the most commercially successful year since its beginning. The patriotic films produced during the war, whose purpose was to maintain and uplift the morale of the nation, made way for the dramas and melodramas that portrayed the struggle of the returning vets, and their struggle to settle back into their civilian lives. Through out the war, Hollywood played a huge role in maintaining the nations morale, and played an even larger role in portraying the societal norms of the post-war American family.
By the end of the war, Women made up over 1/3 of the national work force. As the men returned, they found themselves struggling to find work, struggling to fit back into the society whom they had been fighting and risking their lives to protect. While the men had been off fighting, Women had been forced to take many jobs previously deemed as male dominant positions, thus leaving the position in the home as the solely motherly figure, focused on raising her children. Women’s role in both the workforce and the household had shifted greatly both during and after the war. Hollywood’s portrayal of these shifts in gender roles centered around the home and workplace through out the 1940s had a significant persuasive ideological effects on the post-war American family.
Samuel Goldwyn and William Wyers “The Best Years Of Our Lives”, released in 1946, is a classic example of Hollywood’s influence on the post-war American family and the struggles of the returning vet. It depicts the social readjustment of three vets returning home to a small town in America. Each of the three vets come from a different tiers in society, and whose internal struggles differ slightly. Al, the oldest of the three vets, returns to his position at the local bank, while struggling to feel “at home” again. He feels distant from his wife and kids, who have “grown-up” while he was away, and misses the comradery of his fellow solders. Fred, the highest ranked of the three vets, returns home decorated with badges and medals for his war efforts, although none of that matters anymore. He struggles to find work he feels he is worthy of, at first refusing to return to his job as a “soda jerk”. Fred also struggles to reconnect with his wife, Marie, who has been working in nightclubs during Fred’s absence. Marie is a perfect example of the female entering the workforce while her husband is away. She refuses to stop working a return to her social normative role as a supportive wife, and is portrayed as “unfaithful”. All the while, Al’s daughter, Peggy, plots to break up their marriage because she is in love with Fred. The third vet, Homer, is a sailor who lost both of his hands during the war, and was fitted with a pair of “hooks”. Homer’s struggle is not his physical disability; instead it’s his desire for others to treat him as an equal, to not pity him....

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