U.S. "Propaganda" Films

by bderoes | created - 08 Dec 2014 | updated - 12 Jun 2015 | Public

Films named in 1941 (September 9-26) Senate Subcommittee (to the Interstate Commerce Committee) Hearings on Propaganda in Motion Pictures

Senators Nye, Clark and Wheeler attacked Hollywood for war-mongering in these films, violating the spirit of the Neutrality Act. The subcommittee adjourned near the end of September, and became moot on December 7 before they had a chance to reconvene.

Transcript of hearings was accessed on 8 Dec 2014 and on 21-25 Mar 2015 here: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015020646066 This site can translate an individual page into text, and is searchable. Page numbers below refer to this transcript.

Some titles were mentioned, particularly on pages 114-5, which I could not find in IMDb, or which I could not disambiguate. Other titles were mentioned, but not as propaganda, so I did not include them here. Since the transcript is 450 pages long, and I could only visually scan the text, additional titles may have been mentioned in the hearings that do not appear in this list.

For the purposes of this committee, propaganda is "designed to influence the public mind in the direction of participation in the European war."

I can't claim to have read the entire transcript, but the hearings got off-topic a lot. Seldom did they elaborate on what was supposed to be inflamatory about the movies mentioned.

Four movie moguls testified: Barney Balaban (Paramount), Nicholas Schenck (Loew's, i.e. MGM), Harry Warner (WB), Darryl Zanuck (Fox). Warner's testimony was worth reading, except when the senators took it off-topic.

Fascinating testimony on September 24, 1941 (page 327) by Nicholas Schenck, president of Loew's, Inc. (MGM films): when asked if he would make films that would make one race of people hate another, he replied he would not if it was a nice decent race. Spain was a candidate for an indecent race, but Japan was a nice, decent race. This is only 2.5 months before Pearl Harbor, and a full 10 years after Japan invaded Manchuria, but Schenck is unaware of Japan's aggressions? And no senator corrects him!

Later (page 332), a senator asks him about referencing Russian atrocities on film, said to be at least as severe as those in Germany, and Schenck doesn't think they're as bad, and at least they're doing it to themselves, and no one has written a book about it. (The Mortal Storm originated as a book.)

Production/distribution companies below come from IMDb, not the transcript.

Scorecard: 14 British 7 Warner Brothers 5 MGM 4 Columbia 3 Paramount 3 Twentieth Century Fox 3 other

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1. Escape (1940)

Passed | 104 min | Drama

1938: A young man arrives in Hitler's Germany, frantically seeking information about his German mother, and finds she is pending execution at a concentration camp.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt, Alla Nazimova

Votes: 808

(MGM) p.20-1, 35, 58, 60, 113, 172, 178, 201, 208, 247, 271, 328-9, 420

2. Convoy (1940)

78 min | Drama, War

A tale of the highs and lows of life protecting the vital convoys between America & England during WWII.

Director: Pen Tennyson | Stars: Clive Brook, John Clements, Edward Chapman, Judy Campbell

Votes: 182

(British: Ealing Studios, distributed in US by RKO) p.35, 50, 60, 113

3. Flight Command (1940)

Passed | 116 min | Drama, War

A rookie flyer, Ens. Alan Drake, joins the famous Hellcats Squadron right out of flight school in Pensacola. He doesn't make a great first impression when he is forced to ditch his airplane... See full summary »

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Robert Taylor, Ruth Hussey, Walter Pidgeon, Paul Kelly

Votes: 589

(MGM) p.35, 60, 113, 271, 329, 333

4. The Great Dictator (1940)

Passed | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, War

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner

Votes: 189,835

(Charles Chaplin Productions, distr. United Artists) p.35, 60, 163, 165, 170-1, 180, 202, 209-10, 420

5. The Man I Married (1940)

77 min | Drama

Anti-Nazi tract laced with 1938 newsreel footage finds American girl (Bennett) married to a German (Lederer) gradually learning he is a Nazi, trying to get their son to America.

Director: Irving Pichel | Stars: Joan Bennett, Francis Lederer, Lloyd Nolan, Anna Sten

Votes: 376

(Twentieth Century Fox) p.35, 57, 59-60, 114, 121-2, 171, 175, 208, 411, 420-1; often listed as I Married a Nazi

6. Man Hunt (1941)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Thriller, War

British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Bennett, George Sanders, John Carradine

Votes: 4,541

(Twentieth Century Fox) p.35, 50, 60, 114, 116, 121, 163, 171, 173, 199, 208, 380, 411, 419-20

7. Sergeant York (1941)

Passed | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

A marksman is drafted in World War I and ends up becoming one of the most celebrated war heroes.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias

Votes: 14,496 | Gross: $16.40M

(Warner Bros.) p.35, 50, 52, 60, 89, 208, 333, 339-40, 343, 345, 348-50, 366-8, 420

8. That Hamilton Woman (1941)

Not Rated | 125 min | Drama, History, Romance

The story of courtesan and dance-hall girl Emma Hamilton, including her relationships with Sir William Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson and her rise and fall, set during the Napoleonic Wars.

Director: Alexander Korda | Stars: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Alan Mowbray, Sara Allgood

Votes: 3,767

(British: London Film Productions, US distr. United Artists) p.35, 60, 81, 87, 116-7, 123-4

9. The Mortal Storm (1940)

Passed | 100 min | Drama

The Roth family leads a quiet life in a small village in the German Alps during the early 1930s. When the Nazis come to power, the family is divided and Martin Brietner, a family friend is caught up in the turmoil.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young, Frank Morgan

Votes: 4,235

(MGM) p.54, 113, 163, 171, 175-6, 201, 208, 271, 275, 324-33, 380, 382, 386

10. Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, War

FBI agent Ed Renard investigates the pre-War espionage activities of the German-American Bund.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, George Sanders, Francis Lederer, Paul Lukas

Votes: 1,369

(Warner Bros.) p.60, 81, 113, 119, 150-1, 172, 179, 200-1, 339, 343-5, 367, 370-1, 420

11. Pastor Hall (1940)

95 min | Drama

This film is based on the true story of Pastor Martin Neimuller, who was sent to Dachau concentration camp for criticising the Nazi party. The small German village of Altdorf in the 1930's ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Boulting | Stars: Wilfrid Lawson, Nova Pilbeam, Seymour Hicks, Marius Goring

Votes: 49

(British: Charter Film Productions, US distr. United Artists) p.60, 115, 123, 163, 171, 176-7

12. Underground (1941)

Approved | 95 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

A World War II Hollywood propaganda film detailing the dark underside of Nazism and the Third Reich set between two brothers, Kurt and Erik Franken, whom are SS officers in the Nazi party. ... See full summary »

Director: Vincent Sherman | Stars: Jeffrey Lynn, Philip Dorn, Kaaren Verne, Mona Maris

Votes: 327

(Warner Bros.) p.81, 113, 116, 120, 163, 171-3, 200, 339, 343, 345, 350, 367, 371-2, 374-6, 378, 382, 384, 386, 420, 430

13. Dive Bomber (1941)

Approved | 132 min | Drama, War

A military surgeon teams with a ranking navy flyer to develop a high-altitude suit which will protect pilots from blacking out when they go into a steep dive.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy, Alexis Smith

Votes: 1,520

(Warner Bros.) p.81, 113, 208, 346, 352, 357

14. A Dispatch from Reuters (1940)

Approved | 90 min | Biography, Drama

Starting with a small flock of carrier pigeons, nineteenth-century entrepreneur Julius Reuter turns his small company into Europe's most respected news wire service.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Edna Best, Eddie Albert, Albert Bassermann

Votes: 507

(Warner Bros.) p.113, 346

15. Murder in the Air (1940)

Approved | 55 min | Action, Thriller, Drama

The corpse of a hobo with a $50,000 money belt helps Brass and Gabby crack a cell of fifth columnists bent on sabotage.

Director: Lewis Seiler | Stars: Ronald Reagan, John Litel, Lya Lys, James Stephenson

Votes: 206

(Warner Bros.) p.113

16. Nurse Edith Cavell (1939)

Approved | 108 min | Biography, Drama, War

English nurse Edith Cavell is matron in a small private hospital in German-occupied Brussels during WWI. When the son of a recently deceased patient escapes from a German prisoner-of-war ... See full summary »

Director: Herbert Wilcox | Stars: Anna Neagle, Edna May Oliver, George Sanders, May Robson

Votes: 257

(Imperadio Pictures Ltd., distr. RKO) p.113

17. Sky Murder (1940)

Passed | 72 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

A body is found in a locked airplane compartment and a German female refugee is a suspect. Passenger detective Nick Carter is convinced she didn't do it and works to solve the mysterious murder.

Director: George B. Seitz | Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Donald Meek, Kaaren Verne, Edward Ashley

Votes: 337

(MGM) p.113

18. Washington Melodrama (1941)

Passed | 80 min | Drama

Calvin Claymore is a wealthy businessman trying to get a bill passed to help the starving children of Europe at the outbreak of World War 2. He meets a dancer at a night club, escorts her ... See full summary »

Director: S. Sylvan Simon | Stars: Frank Morgan, Ann Rutherford, Kent Taylor, Dan Dailey

Votes: 162

(MGM) p.114, 131

19. Escape to Glory (1940)

64 min | Drama

A British ship is attacked by a German U-boat at the onset of World War II. The reactions of the frightened passengers-from a German doctor to a drunken Irishman-are chronicled in this good story.

Director: John Brahm | Stars: Pat O'Brien, Constance Bennett, John Halliday, Alan Baxter

Votes: 31

(Columbia) p.114

(British: Aldwych Films, US distr. Columbia) p.114, 122, 171, 174-5

21. Ten Days in Paris (1940)

82 min | Drama

Bob Stevens (Sir Rex Harrison) awakens in a hospital with a gunshot wound to his head, and is told that he has been in Paris for ten days. However, this cannot be true because he insists ... See full summary »

Director: Tim Whelan | Stars: Rex Harrison, Kaaren Verne, C.V. France, Leo Genn

Votes: 35

(British: Irving Asher Productions, US distr. Columbia) p.114, listed as Missing Ten Days

22. The Phantom Submarine (1940)

Approved | 70 min | Adventure, Mystery, Romance

On the night before he sails in search of the steamship Arcadia's sunken gold, Paul Sinclair (Bruce Bennett)meets Madeliene Nielson (Anita Louise) in a San Francisco nightclub. On the ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Barton | Stars: Bruce Bennett, Anita Louise, Oscar O'Shea, John Tyrrell

Votes: 25

(Columbia) p.114, 172, 185

23. They Dare Not Love (1941)

Approved | 75 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

An Austrian prince flees his homeland when the Nazis take over and settles in London. While in London, he meets a beautiful Austrian émigré who makes him realize his mistake in leaving ... See full summary »

Directors: James Whale, Victor Fleming, Charles Vidor | Stars: George Brent, Martha Scott, Paul Lukas, Kay Linaker

Votes: 61

(Columbia) p.114, 163, 171, 173-4; (incorrectly) listed as British

24. A Voice in the Night (1941)

95 min | Drama, War

Hitler's doctor is gradually realising that the Nazi regime isn't as good as it pretends to be when his friends start to "disappear" into the camps. His wife is courted by the party and ... See full summary »

Director: Anthony Asquith | Stars: Clive Brook, Diana Wynyard, Raymond Huntley, Derek Farr

Votes: 209

(British: Two Cities Films, US distr. Columbia) p.114, 124, 171, 177

25. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Passed | 120 min | Action, Romance, Thriller

On the eve of World War II, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders

Votes: 17,127 | Gross: $3.48M

(Walter Wanger Productions, distr. United Artists) p.114, 172, 182

26. Four Sons (1940)

Approved | 89 min | Drama, History, War

When the Germans invade Czechoslovakia the four sons of a Czecho-German family follow different paths: Czech patriot, Nazi supporter, artist in America, and heroic German soldier.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: Don Ameche, Eugenie Leontovich, Mary Beth Hughes, Alan Curtis

Votes: 84

(Twentieth Century Fox) p.114, 121-2, 172, 183-4, 416-9

27. One Night in Lisbon (1941)

Approved | 97 min | Comedy

A Texas pilot courts a British aristocrat in London amid bombing and in Portugal amid spies.

Director: Edward H. Griffith | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Madeleine Carroll, Patricia Morison, Billie Burke

Votes: 73

(Paramount) p.114, 122-3, 172, 178-9

28. Mystery Sea Raider (1940)

Approved | 73 min | Drama, War

At the outset of World War II, June McCarthy meets Carl Cutler aboard the S.S.Aleria, a British vessel en route to New York from London, where she has been dancing. The ship is sunk in ... See full summary »

Director: Edward Dmytryk | Stars: Carole Landis, Henry Wilcoxon, Onslow Stevens, Kathleen Howard

Votes: 42

(Paramount) p.114, 172, 184-5

29. I Wanted Wings (1941)

Approved | 135 min | Drama, War

Story follows the training and personal lives of three recruits in the Army Air Corps --- a wealthy playboy, a college jock and an auto mechanic. Love interest is supplied by a female ... See full summary »

Director: Mitchell Leisen | Stars: Ray Milland, William Holden, Wayne Morris, Brian Donlevy

Votes: 307

(Paramount) p.114

30. After Mein Kampf?: The Story of Adolph Hitler (1940)

Approved | 75 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

Mixture of re-enactments and documentary footage relates the story of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis in Germany and the danger they pose to Europe and the rest of the world.

Director: Norman Lee | Stars: Adolf Hitler, Robert Beatty, Derek Blomfield, Heinz Guderian

Votes: 49

(Associated British Picture Corporation, US distr. Crystal Pictures Inc.) p.114

31. Blackout (1940)

Not Rated | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Early in World War II, Danish sea captain Andersen, delayed in a British port, tangles with German spies.

Director: Michael Powell | Stars: Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Hay Petrie, Joss Ambler

Votes: 958

(British National Films, US distr. United Artists) p.115, 172, 181

32. The Spy in Black (1939)

77 min | Thriller, War

A German submarine is sent to the Orkney Isles in 1917 to sink the British fleet.

Director: Michael Powell | Stars: Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Sebastian Shaw, Marius Goring

Votes: 1,851

(British: London Film Productions, US distr. Columbia) p.115, listed as U-Boat 29

33. North Sea Patrol (1938)

64 min | Drama

With international relations strained and war a possibility, Commander Stanton is given a special mission.

Director: Norman Lee | Stars: Geoffrey Toone, Clifford Evans, John Wood, Albert Burdon

Votes: 36

(Associated British Picture Corporation, US distr. Film Alliance of the United States Inc.) p.115

34. Night Train to Munich (1940)

Not Rated | 90 min | Thriller, War

When Germany invades Czechoslovakia, the German and the British intelligence services try to capture Czech scientist Dr. Axel Bomasch (James Harcourt), inventor of a new type of armor-plating.

Director: Carol Reed | Stars: Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul Henreid, Basil Radford

Votes: 4,239

(British: Twentieth Century Fox) p.115, 121-2, 172, 180-1, 420, listed as Night Train

35. The Lion Has Wings (1939)

76 min | Drama, War

Alexander Korda's bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. Spliced together to form a documentary-style movie of both newsreel and ... See full summary »

Directors: Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Michael Powell, Alexander Korda | Stars: Merle Oberon, Ralph Richardson, June Duprez, Flora Robson

Votes: 492

(British: London Film Productions, US distr. United Artists) p.115, 117

36. The Ramparts We Watch (1940)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama

America learns the value of wartime preparedness in de Rochemont's study of World War I's effect on average citizens.

Director: Louis De Rochemont | Stars: John Adair, John Summers, Julia Kent, Ellen Prescott

Votes: 16

(Time (as March of Time), distr. RKO) p.115, British, 122, 126-7, 186

37. So Ends Our Night (1941)

117 min | Drama, War

Story about three German refugees during World War II who are always hiding, always in fear of deportation.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Fredric March, Margaret Sullavan, Frances Dee, Glenn Ford

Votes: 333

(David L. Loew-Albert Lewin, distr. United Artists) p.120, 172, 182-3

38. International Squadron (1941)

85 min | Adventure, Drama, War

In 1941, an American flyer volunteers for the British RAF but must learn to be an obedient team-player rather than a risky thrill-seeking individualist.

Directors: Lothar Mendes, Lewis Seiler | Stars: Ronald Reagan, Olympe Bradna, James Stephenson, William Lundigan

Votes: 71

(Warner Bros.) p.163, 171, 174, 343, 345, 350-1

39. The Devil Commands (1941)

Approved | 65 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife.

Director: Edward Dmytryk | Stars: Boris Karloff, Anne Revere, Amanda Duff, Richard Fiske

Votes: 879

(Columbia) p.172, 179-80

40. What Price Glory (1926)

116 min | Comedy, Drama, War

U.S. Marine sergeants Quirt and Flagg are inveterate romantic rivals on peacetime assignments in China and the Philippines. In 1917, W.W. I brings them to France, where Flagg, now a captain... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: Victor McLaglen, Edmund Lowe, Dolores del Rio, William V. Mong

Votes: 339 | Gross: $0.70M

p.102, 193; anti-war, praised

41. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Not Rated | 136 min | Drama, War

91 Metascore

A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I.

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy

Votes: 54,954 | Gross: $3.27M

p.102, 193; anti-war, praised

42. The Road Back (1937)

Approved | 100 min | Drama, War

After World War I, a group of former German soldiers try to adjust to civilian life.

Director: James Whale | Stars: John 'Dusty' King, Richard Cromwell, Slim Summerville, Andy Devine

Votes: 135

p.102, 193; anti-war, praised



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