Violence and masculinity in Hollywood war films during World War II
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During World War II, the Hollywood studios produced an unprecedented number of war-themed films in order to help prepare American audiences for what was to come, as well as to profit from the popularity of anything pertaining to the war. As a result, soldiers were the predominant representation of masculinity from 1942 to 1945. The war's biggest influence on Hollywood, however, was the increasing freedom studios were given to portray violence onscreen in order to reflect the bloodshed of the war itself. Using the existing literature about Hollywood during the war, as well as primary sources from the period, this thesis examines the impact that the war had on violence in film with a focus on how Hollywood influenced the portrayal of masculinity through combat films. In order to illustrate how violence changed during the war years I begin my thesis by establishing the state of film censorship prior to the war. I make use of the gangster films as they were the most violent films produced during the 1930's and led directly to the censorship of film violence. The majority of my thesis focuses on film violence between 1942 and 1945, arguing that the war dramatically influenced censorship in the United States, and also that Hollywood helped to redefine masculinity through the combat films. I finish my thesis with an examination of films released between 1946 and 1950 that prove film violence continued after the war had ended and in genres other than the combat films.