Somewhere in Texas, one of the most famous episodes of the Iraq war; the heroic rescue of U.S. Private Jessica Lynch was turned into a scene for a made-for-TV movie. The movie was broadcast on TV earlier this Fall, but not without sparking some controversy. The official military version of the rescue had been contradicted by several investigative journalists. But when the film was produced, a U.S. Army official was on the set overseeing the operation. The U.S. Army also had direct control over the script, but at what expense to reality? With the help of interviews with key military officials and filmmakers, Hollywood and the Pentagon: A Dangerous Liaison attempts to explain the behind-the-scenes relations between Hollywood and the Pentagon. (Published on July 1, 2012)
Have your favorite movies been censored or meddled with by the Pentagon? Since the 80′s, and the success of Top Gun, Hollywood has increased its production of big budget war movies, using military bases, submarines and aircraft carriers that the armed forces have generously made available to the studios. In exchange, the Pentagon’s experts vet hundreds of screenplays each year.
Using lots of movie clips, «Operation Hollywood» explores this cozy relationship between Hollywood filmmakers and the U.S. government, and questions the wisdom of letting the Pentagon use movies to promote the U.S. army’s image.
Every year, Hollywood producers ask the Pentagon for help in making films, seeking everything from locations and technical advice to Blackhawk helicopters and nuclear-powered submarines. The military will happily oblige, it says in an army handbook, so long as the movie «aid[s] in the recruiting and retention of personnel.»
The producers want to make money; the Defense Department wants to make propaganda. Former Hollywood Reporter staffer Robb explores the conflicts resulting from these negotiations in this illuminating though sometimes tedious study of the military-entertainment complex over the last 50 years. Robb shows how, in the Nicholas Cage film Windtalkers, the Marine Corps strong-armed producers into deleting a scene where a Marine pries gold teeth from a dead Japanese soldier (a historically accurate detail).
And in The Perfect Storm, the air force insisted on giving the Air National Guard credit for rescuing a sinking fishing boat, instead of the actual Coast Guard heroes. Even seemingly flawless recruiting vehicles had troubles: in Top Gun, the navy demanded Tom Cruise’s love interest be changed from a military instructor to a civilian contractor (fraternization between officers & enlisted personnel being a no-no).
At its worst, the author argues, the Pentagon unscrupulously targets children; Robb reveals how the Defense Department helped insert military story lines into the Mickey Mouse Club. To help, Robb suggests a schedule of uniform fees by which producers could rent aircraft carriers, F-16s & the like. It’s an intriguing idea, though producers can go it alone: as Robb points out, blockbusters Forrest Gump, An Officer & a Gentleman & Platoon were all made without military assistance. (Published on May 26, 2012)
Empire – Hollywood: The Pentagon calls the shots: http://youtu.be/sQSpHi7OOHA
Empire – Hollywood: Chronicler of War: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yVH-cFXTYo
Operation Hollywood: How The Pentagon Shapes And Censors The Movies
Operation Hollywood – Army Movie Censorship ‘Makes Americans Warlike’
Operation Hollywood – Interview W/ Author David L. Robb
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